In a society driven by technology, where screens dominate our everyday lives, the consequences of excessive digital exposure are increasingly apparent. As a result, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is emerging as a critical public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, impacting both productivity and quality of life. A recent study shed light on the prevalence of CVS, revealing that a significant portion of the population experiences discomfort in their muscles and eyes due to prolonged use of screens, with incidence rates ranging from 30% to 90%. This is particularly true for individuals who work on computers, as noted in a publication by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.
The increase in online education during the Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasized the need to address CVS as an urgent public health concern.
Prevalence of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) in Today’s Society
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shiva Kumar R, Senior Consultant – Neurology and Epileptology at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, stated, “Following prolonged use of Visual Display Terminals (VDT), CVS has caused eye problems. The incidence rates of CVS range from 30% to 90%. Research indicates that a significant portion of the population is affected by CVS, although it is difficult to determine the exact proportion. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that the prevalence of CVS among computer workers is as high as 53.9%. Additionally, they mentioned that since the Covid-19 outbreak, online education has significantly increased, making CVS a serious public health concern.”
Effects of CVS on an individual’s productivity and overall quality of life
According to Dr Shiva Kumar R, CVS is caused by various factors. Prolonged and uninterrupted use of digital devices is the primary cause, which can lead to symptoms such as itching, blurry or doubled vision, eye pain, headaches, backaches, neck and shoulder pain, and numbness in the hands or fingers. Excessive computer use can also result in sleep disorders. Visual discomfort and fatigue can hinder concentration, making it difficult to stay focused on tasks and reducing efficiency. CVS symptoms can impact a person’s mood, leading to decreased motivation, job satisfaction, and overall psychological well-being. Stress is another trigger for migraines and a risk factor for developing chronic migraines from episodic migraines. Additionally, stressful life events can cause insomnia. It is only natural that increased stress would strengthen the connection between CVS and migraines. The likelihood of CVS causing migraines increases with higher stress levels.”
He added, “Excessive screen use, particularly close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns and quality. According to experts, the blue light emitted by screens can inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, which can interfere with the circadian rhythm and result in digital eye strain and insomnia. Poor lighting, incorrect viewing distance and angle, screen glare, uncorrected vision problems, and inadequate blinking are some contributing factors.”
Preventive Measures to Decrease the Risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
Dr Shiva Kumar R recommended the following:
- Limit Screen Time: Restrict the amount of time young children spend on screens to one or two hours per day.
- Ensure Proper Seating and Lighting: Ensure that children are seated correctly and that the lighting is appropriate. They should not have to strain or squint to see the screen. Maintain a distance of 18 to 28 inches between the monitor and the child’s eye level. Adjust the chair so that their feet are on the ground and their arms are comfortably positioned on the desk.
- Regular Vision Checks: Monitor a child’s vision and conduct visual tests to identify any potential impairments. Computer glasses can help improve focus on the screen, reducing eye strain. Anti-glare displays or coatings on eyewear can also help reduce eye strain.
- Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away. Additionally, perform daily stretching exercises for the neck, arms, shoulders, and back to release tension and alleviate strain or pain.
- Guidelines for Adults: Adults should also adhere to these preventive measures. Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can be used to moisturize and soothe dry eyes. Avoid rubbing the eyes as it can worsen eye strain.
- Promote Awareness and Education: Public health initiatives, education, and awareness campaigns are crucial to ensure that people are well-informed about the potential risks of CVS and the available choices for prevention and management. Understanding the link between screen time and migraines is essential, as CVS can be modified.
By following these simple preventive measures, we can significantly decrease the risk of developing CVS in children and promote healthier digital habits for individuals of all ages.
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