With millions of people around the world spending more time in front of computer monitors, many of them wearing contact lenses, many are starting to experience a set of symptoms that are categorized under the general heading of Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.

CVS is usually a temporary condition with symptoms that can include eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, neck and shoulder tension, and dry eyes. Most of the time CVS symptoms will clear up after spending a few minutes away from your computer monitor. Occasionally, the blurred vision and dryness will continue even after being away from the computer and those symptoms should be brought to the attention of your eye care professional. While the syndrome is not caused by contact lenses, they may in some cases make it worse.

Symptoms of CVS are most likely to occur in people who spend hours of uninterrupted time in front of computer monitors, but the length of time until the onset of symptoms and the extent of difficulties can vary widely. It’s generally not a good idea to ignore symptoms that persist more than a few minutes after moving away from the computer monitor as those symptoms are more likely to reoccur and could worsen with continued computer use.

The causes of CVS are generally due to the fact your eyes have to work a little harder viewing text on a computer monitor. While contrast, definition and anti-glare coatings have improved greatly in newer computer monitors, it is still difficult to read at the unusual distances and angles required by computer use.

Special Contact Lenses Necessary

Treatment and management of CVS may involve specialty glasses or contact lenses. In many cases the contact lenses or spectacles you wear for daily activities may need to be adjusted for computer work. It is rare that regular reading glasses will do much to assist with reading on a computer monitor, so managing CVS with guidance from an eye care professional is recommended.

Over-the-counter drops and re-wetting solutions might be advised for dryness of the eyes, possibly in conjunction with special nighttime eye drops in extreme cases.

Management of CVS might also include changes to your work environment. Proper seating posture and positioning of your monitor can go a long way toward relieving strain on the neck and shoulders. Most people find it easier to view a computer monitor with their eyes looking slightly downward, so positioning the computer monitor 15 to 20 degrees below eye level at a distance of 55 to 71 centimeters can provide a less stressful viewing environment.

Reference materials should be placed between the computer keyboard and monitor whenever possible. If that location is not workable, then a location to one side or the other of the monitor is advised. The placement should allow shifting your eyes from the computer monitor to the reference material without moving your head.

You might also receive direction to take occasional breaks and focus on objects farther away. There’s a rule of thumb called the 20-20-20 rule which states you should take a break after every 20 minutes of computer activity and focus on an object at least 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds.