Reviewed by: Dr. Matthew Miller, OD on Nov 18, 2020

What is computer vision syndrome or, sometimes called, computer eye syndrome? Have you ever had ‘computer eyes’ after a long day of work on the computer, or after browsing the internet for hours?

If you use a computer, or really any technology involving a screen, regularly throughout the day, you’ve probably had ‘computer eyes’. Your eyes essentially “lock-in” on the screen, which can cause problems with your eye’s focusing system throughout the day — think eye strain, headaches, blurry vision (sometimes at all distances after extended use), or even double vision! Blinking is also decreased while looking at screens, which can lead to redness, burning, irritation, and dryness. All of these symptoms causing computer vision syndrome are the result of too much screen time.

Wait, too much computer use?! Is there really such a thing?

The answer: Absolutely. As modern society has grown more and more dependent on computer use in our daily lives, our eyesight has invariably become affected by this extended computer use. It’s nearly impossible for most people in the modern world, young, old and in-between, to avoid at least some degree of computer eye strain at some point in their lives.

So, can anything be done to help or prevent computer vision syndrome? Are there computer eye syndrome treatments?

Unless you decide to stop using a computer (and other “screened” technology) altogether, you won’t be able to ever fully prevent computer vision syndrome. However, there are ways to mitigate it and, thankfully, computer vision syndrome is not permanent — although it can become a chronic condition if you don’t take steps to lessen the symptoms.

The easiest option is to try and take breaks. Look away from the screen for a few minutes. Get up, walk around, take a peek out the window for a while. Try to look away from the screen every twenty minutes for twenty seconds, at something at least twenty feet away. Try setting a timer if you’re one to get lost in your work.

If you’ve tried the easy option but aren’t getting much relief, consider using artificial tears to help keep your eyes from becoming dry and irritated while using screens for extended periods.

If your eyes feel tired, strained, or blurry you might want to consider a low power pair of over the counter reading glasses to help reduce your focusing needs.

If none of these options are working for you, it’s probably time to consider talking with your eye care professional. It’s possible you may need a specific eye drop that you can’t find over the counter, or a pair of prescription computer glasses or computer bifocals to help with your specific needs that off the shelf readers just can’t fix. Maybe a pair of blue-blocking glasses, which some studies have shown help reduce eye strain associated with screen use, are the answer — it’s worth a shot!

Computers and screens are a big part of our modern lives. If you’re suffering with computer vision syndrome, don’t wait to look for help and allow it to become a daily problem. Try the suggestions above, and if you’re not getting the relief you need, talk to your eye care professional about your options.