What is Digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain/Digital eye discomfort/Computer vision syndrome is a multitude of symptoms that occur in persons who have to spend more than 2-3 hours on screen per day.

CVS (computer vision syndrome) usually presents with dryness of the eye where tears that lubricate and protect the eyes are decreased in production. Due to continuous viewing of the monitor, the blink rate of the person comes down which leads to dryness of the eyes. The normal blink rate for an average person is 12 to 15 per minute. Blinking is important for spreading tears over the cornea (the black part of the eye). Dryness of the eyes often leads to an exaggerated response of the eyes to normal dust exposure leading to frequent allergies and infective manifestation.

Digital Eye Strain

Apart from dry eye, CVS also presents with:

  • Eye strain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These Symptoms Are Usually Precipitated By:

  • Poor lighting
  • Glare from gadget screen
  • Improper viewing angle
  • Uncorrected vision problem (or a combination of these)

Most of these problems subside by minimising the use of computer.

Symptoms Are Usually:

  • Itching/Irritation of the eyes (especially at the corners)
  • Burning sensation
  • Frequent redness of the eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Blurred vision

Treatment usually consists of a comprehensive eye examination to assess vision defects, tear film deficiency, allergies and infections which will be treated accordingly.

Dryness of the eyes can be brought under control by long-term application of lubrication eye drops (tear film supplements) which give symptomatic relief.

Vision problems are usually best corrected with glasses with UV (ultra-violet) protection coating/anti-glare glasses. Eye drops are prescribed for co-existing allergies and infections.


Following computer hygiene during the use of computers or gadgets might help reduce the symptoms arising secondary to gadget use.

  • Proper seating and lighting (avoid bright light/ambiance surrounding the computer screen).
  • Position the computer screen slightly below your eye level assessing from the centre of the computer screen (4-5 inches below eye level and 20 to 25 cm away from the eye).
  • Using anti-glare computer screens/anti-glare eye glasses while using a computer.
  • Taking frequent breaks while using computers or gadgets (15-minute breaks for every 2 hours of computer use).
  • Frequent blinking of the eyes.
  • Closing the eyes for 1 or 2 mins every half an hour of computer use and looking at distant objects to give intermittent rest to the eye muscles.
  • Using tear supplements while using computers or gadgets.
Dr. Sudha Bhuvaneshwari

Dr. Sudha Bhuvaneshwari
Associate Consultant in Ophthalmology
Kauvery Hospital Chennai


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