What are the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

Well, there are two main symptoms of computer vision syndrome with a spectrum.

The symptom of the eye feeling dry.

The first symptom of computer vision syndrome is a feeling of the eye being dry, the eye feeling tired, the eye feeling gritty. And this, typically, progresses as the day goes on. So in the morning, when the eyes have been shut at night, our patients wake, their eyes are comfortable, and they’re happy. They go to work, or they look at their tablets, or they’re busy on their mobile phones, or they’re busy with the PlayStations and gaming. They’re not blinking and the eyes are becoming dry. They don’t blink so the eyes become progressively dry. So the principal symptom of computer vision syndrome is that feeling of a dry eye and tiredness. Now, interestingly, it may be that the symptoms don’t occur while using the computer screen, but occur when they go home in the evening. Because throughout the eye… Throughout the day, rather, the eye has been drying and it’s only in the evening then that the symptoms occur.

So patients will say, or some of them will say, I’m fine when I’m at work, but in the evening, I can’t wait to get my contact lenses out. I just can’t wear my contact lenses for as long as I used to. I used to be able to wear them all day. Now, as soon as I get home, I have to take them out. But if you ask them how they are at weekends, they say it’s much better at weekends. Or how are you on holiday? Oh, I can wear my contact lenses all day. So computer visions syndrome symptoms don’t always occur when using the computer, but often later in the day.

The symptom of disturbance of vision.

The other principal symptom is visual disturbance. So in order to see clearly, we need a healthy tear film and that tear film needs to be uniform. It shouldn’t be like drizzle on a car windscreen because we can’t see through the drizzle. And when we put the windscreen wipers on, in other words when we blink, we smooth out the tear film.

But if the eye’s been chronically dry because all day long we haven’t been blinking, patients will describe their vision as fluctuating. So sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s not. And that will depend on how well they’re blinking, how engaged they are with the screen, or their tablets, or the gaming. So fluctuating vision is a very common symptom of computer vision syndrome as is blurred vision, particularly towards the end of the day.

But the blurring of vision may also be after they’ve used the screen and in the evening when they’re relaxing and they’re chilling down. And some people even resort to reading glasses when they don’t really need them because they can’t see properly because of the dry eye associated with computer vision syndrome.

But simple reading glasses will magnify that blurred image so all they’re seeing then is a magnified blurred image. It’s not that they need reading glasses, they need their computer vision syndrome treating with education and artificial teardrops rather than reading glasses. But people’s first thought is often, I can’t see close print anymore, I’ll get some reading glasses. So there’s a real rug bag of symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome.

About the Author

Mr Robert Morris

BSc(Hons), MB BS (Hons), MRCP, FRCS, FRCOphth
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

Robert Morris trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital part of the University of London. He graduated with Honours in his final examinations. Robert completed his post-graduate ophthalmic training at the renowned units in Oxford Eye Hospital and London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. Within the NHS, he has had a high volume cataract surgery practice and performed over 12,000 cataract procedures. He has an interest in squint surgery and is a national expert in this field. In addition to his NHS work, Robert manages a successful independent private practice. He continualy updates his training to keep abreast with the latest technology and techniques in refractive surgery.