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What you should know about Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment in Edmonton

As Canadians spend more time looking at digital screens, it's no wonder that computer vision syndrome (CVS) is on the rise. CVS, also known as digital eye strain, causes discomfort and vision problems including blur, headaches, and eye strain.


At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., we can treat and prevent symptoms of CVS. With eye exams, special eyeglasses and advice on screen viewing habits, we can help you reduce strain and alleviate computer vision syndrome symptoms. Contact us to book an appointment for you and your children at one of our clinics in the Edmonton area.

What Is Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain?

Your eyes aren’t used to reading or viewing images on a digital screen for hours at a time. Unchecked screen time can lead to computer vision syndrome, characterized by blurry vision, general fatigue and headaches.

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

Eye strain from viewing digital screens causes CVS. Letters on a screen aren’t static or precise like those on the printed page, and there’s less contrast. Glare from lighting and windows can also make reading difficult.


The distance and angle of your screen are also factors. Moving and focusing your eyes can stress your visual system. People who use eyeglasses may need to tilt their heads at awkward angles to see clearly, straining the neck and shoulders.  These people can sometimes benefit from specific glasses for computer use.

Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of CVS include:

  • Dry eyes. Blinking goes down from 12 to about five times a minute when staring at a digital screen. This intense focus dries the eye's surface, making it susceptible to irritation.

  • Blurred vision. Focusing continually on the computer distance without breaks can make it difficult to change focus to other things.  Constantly changing focus between the keyboard and your screen or paperwork can also put stress on your eyes.

  • Eye muscle strain. Eyes are like a muscle. If you use them too much, they get fatigued. Uninterrupted focusing on images from a bright screen near your face will tire your eyes.

  • Neck and shoulder pain. Poor posture combined with unconscious tensing of muscles can lead to shoulder and neck pain.

  • Headaches. Even if your shoulders and neck are comfortable, overhead lights or window glare can cause headaches.

These symptoms, if left untreated, can lead to long-term health and vision problems.

Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment

An optometrist can diagnose computer vision syndrome with a general eye exam, which can also detect other vision issues.


Everyday prescription eyeglasses may not be suitable for computer work. An eye doctor may prescribe special eyeglasses to wear while using a digital screen. Even if you don’t need eyeglasses, you may still need a pair strictly for computer work.


Schedule an eye exam annually, as your prescription requirements change over time.

Computer Vision Syndrome Prevention

Ways to reduce the symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:

  • Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes (45 to 75 centimetres) and 20 degrees below eye level.

  • Set colour, contrast tones and brightness to suit your eyes and match your surroundings.

  • Use an anti-glare screen cover. Dim the lights and position your screen to avoid glare from windows.

  • Clean your screen regularly.

  • When referencing paperwork, attach a clipboard beside your monitor so the two are the same distance from your face.

Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.

Computer Vision Syndrome FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about CVS.

Can children get computer vision syndrome?

The Alberta Association of Optometrists says 28 per cent of parents report their child experiences symptoms during or after using digital devices.

Will anti-reflective coating on my eyeglasses help?

Eyeglasses with anti-reflective (AR) coatings are helpful, but they don’t address the primary causes of CVS. However, special coatings and blue light filters may help protect your eyes from potentially harmful high-energy visible (HEV) light emitted by digital screens.

Will wearing computer eyeglasses make my eyes worse?

There’s no evidence that wearing computer glasses harms your eyes or causes or worsens refractive errors.

Doctor examing eyes of a patient

Digital Eye Strain Treatment in Edmonton

At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., we can diagnose computer vision syndrome and recommend digital eye strain treatment and prevention methods. We treat adults and children in Edmonton, Westlock and Leduc. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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