Computer Vision Syndrome: Prevent the Unseen


Alexis Yang

Photo credit: Alexis Yang

Alexis Yang, Staff Writer

Today’s world is filled with screens. We are constantly bombarded with and indulge in a flurry of social media. Think about how often children hunch over iPads or sit before TVs playing video games. Think about adults who spend hours staring at computers during their office jobs, then whittle away time with their phones glued to their palms. Think about teens who check their phones an alarming number of times per day, scrolling through social media and maintaining their Snapchat streaks, and then devote hours to online homework later.

This is a phenomenon that reaches across all generations. While phones, tablets, and computers are an integral part of our lives, the amount of time we spend on them is a health concern.

According to the Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology and Research, repeatedly looking at screens for extended periods of time can result in “eye-strain, tired eyes, irritation, burning sensations, redness of eyes, [and] dry eyes, [along with] blurred, and double vision.” Along with vision problems, an article in the Internet Journal of Medical Update reported that prolonged computer usage can result in pain in the shoulders and neck. These symptoms have a name. It’s called Computer Vision Syndrome.

In our digital world, it’s impossible to avoid screen usage completely. However, the Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology and Research states that you can reduce the impacts of screen use by using the “20/20/20 rule.” After every twenty minutes of screen time, you should look more than twenty feet into the distance for twenty seconds.

What about printed text? Students spend hours staring at their notebooks doing homework—not to mention reading, which can mean focusing for hours on printed pages. Fortunately, there is less of a concern here. According to the Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology and Research, while the printed word has “sharp edges,” screens don’t. Instead, they simulate edges with a collection of pixels and “horizontal lines called rasters,” resulting in vision problems for screen viewers.

So, we all know the feeling: when you stare at your phone for hours on end, eyes fixated on the small screen, you experience that blurry vision and you blink a few times, desperately waiting for your eyes to adjust. We’ve all experienced the danger, and yet we ignore the warning signs. In this digital world, it is critical to be mindful of our own habits and the risks of Computer Vision Syndrome as well as take preventative action. Let’s face it: do you really want a stronger glasses prescription by the time you are twenty?

Photo credit: Alexis Yang