Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome is a condition that is plaguing more and more people, both young and old, as we as a society become more dependent on our computers, tablets and cell phones.  Computer Vision Syndrome is characterized by 2 main problems. The first being dry eyes and the second being eyestrain, also known as Asthenopia.

Dry Eyes is caused by not blinking enough when looking at the screen.  Dr. Gardiner of Harvard Health Publications, explains that “When you look at a screen, you're so involved that you forget to blink.”  According to scientists, the average person blinks 15 to 20 times per minute.  Being so focused on your screen causes you to blink less often, 5 times a minute, allowing your eyes to get dry.

Eyestrain is caused by staring at the screen for too long.  Dr. Gardiner believes one possible cause of eyestrain while staring at the screen is the glare or brightness that comes from the screen.  A few of the symptoms you may notice are: Blurred vision, Double vision, Dry, red eyes, Eye irritation, Headaches and Neck or Back pain.

There are a few, fairly simple things you can change at your workspace to reduce your symptoms:

  • Reduce the glare.  Adjust the lighting in your work space to match the light coming from your screen.  Cover any windows to remove a glare on the screen, or move your computer if possible.
  • Rearrange your desk.  Make sure your computer monitor is 20 to 28 inches away from your face and that the middle of your screen is slightly below eye level.  This will help reduce straining to see the screen.
  • Adjust your screen settings.  All screens, computer, tablet and phone start out at factory settings.  Adjust the brightness, contrast and font size to your own personal settings to help reduce eyestrain.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 Rule. After 20 minutes of work on the computer, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help reduce eyestrain. 
  • Blink. Make sure you are remembering to blink while you are looking at a computer screen.  When we are so focused on our work, we tend to forget to blink causing dry eyes.

Also remember to get regular eye exams.  The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommend computer users get an eye exam before working on computers and then once a year there after. As adults, we also need to remember that children are using these electronics almost as much as we are.  Our settings for the screens may not be the correct settings for a child, and should be adjusted to meet their needs as well.


  • Harvard Health Publications:
  • Tribley, McClain, Karbasi, Kaldenberg. Tips for computer vision syndrome relief and prevention. Work 39 (2011) 85-87