Computer vision syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome affects 75% of the people who work on computers, most markedly those over the age of 40.


  • Eye fatigue
  • Dry eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the shoulders, neck or back.


Decreased blink rate:

As we stare at the computer screen or while reading, our blink rate decreases. We actually blink 66% less while working on the computer. This will cause your eyes to feel dry and to burn


  • Become aware when you are not blinking enough and try to blink more frequently
  • Take a vision break every 15 minutes or so.
  • Use eye lubricants

Glare and reflection:

Reflections off your monitor can make your eyes tired. You may find yourself squinting or developing a posture that is fatiguing in order to &quote;get around the glare"


  • Reposition your monitor so you don't have windows directly to the front or behind your monitor
  • Adjust or add window blinds
  • Overhead lights can cause glare: change light bulbs to a full spectrum light or a lower wattage light. Regular fluorescent lights emit blue light, which makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, changing the color of the light can make the eyes more relaxed.
  • Use a task lamp that shines only on your paper but not in your eyes or on the monitor
  • Use a glare filter
  • Consider and adjust other sources of reflected light (top of desk, walls, etc.)

Your monitor:

The redraw or refresh rate of many monitors is 60 Hz. This speed can cause a flicker that makes the screen appear to roll. The flicker stimulates the eye to accommodate or to refocus, tiring the visual system.


  • Reset the refresh rate of the monitor to 70-85Hz. (Read your monitor or computer hardware instruction manual to be sure your monitor is capable of this setting.)

Poor positioning of your monitor can make it difficult to focus on the screen. What types of repetitive work do you do? Where is your paper in relationship to your screen? How big is your monitor? What size and color is your font? Check brightness/ contrast.


  • Large monitors are easier to see, font size can be increased
  • Flat screens have less glare
  • Controlling the brightness and contrast will reduce eye strain and decrease focusing demand
  • Keep your screen free of dust and smudges


Poorly set up workstations will cause pain due to repetitive injury. This is especially a consideration in people over 40, who have a decrease in focusing ability and rely on bifocals.


  • Adjust the height of your monitor: Lower your monitor if you use a bifocal, so you are using the proper focusing area of your glasses, tipping your head up will cause neck and shoulder pain. Raise your monitor if you don't use a bifocal.
  • Try to position your monitor about 20 - 26 inches away. If you are unable to adjust the monitor distance, measure the distance and discuss it with your eye doctor, so your glasses are focused at the proper working distance.
  • Consider computer glasses. These can be worn alone or over contact lenses. They allow you to sit in an ergonomically correct position, and decrease repetitive motion injuries.
  • Consider a glare coating on your lenses.
  • Talk to your doctor about your bifocal design (some brands are better than others) no-line vs. lined; larger corridor lenses vs. shortened bifocal corridors that fit into smaller frames.


Computer Vision Syndrome is a very real problem and there are solutions to the problems you may be experiencing. Don't try to muddle through this alone. Talk to your eye doctor. Learn your options. Take advantage of ergonomic professionals that can come to your work station.

Make your fatigue, eye strain, blurred vision and neck/shoulder/back pain, a thing of your past.

Christine Sindt, O.D.

Last reviewed: 
September 2015

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