Teenagers looking at a phone screen.

Computer vision syndrome is a reality for people of all ages in today’s workplace. Sadly, it’s also a reality in young people’s lives, including in the school setting and at home. We spend so much time in front of a screen, whether it’s a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, or any other screen-based interactive technology that even young people are being affected by this modern-day syndrome.

What can you do about it? Whether you’re a concerned parent, guardian, or educator who wants to help, or you’re a teenager or young adult who is experiencing issues with your eyes due to spending a great deal of time in front of a screen, today’s blog can offer some answers.

What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?

If you find yourself squinting at your screen, having trouble reading the words, or seeing the images and letters dance around, it’s very likely that you’re experiencing computer vision syndrome.

This condition results from keeping the eyes focused on a screen in front of us for long, uninterrupted sessions. What happens is that the eye muscles find it difficult to recover from this constant focus on a screen, day after day. When you add insufficient sleep (as many teens are unfortunately prone to experience in our demanding, results-driven world), then eye strain is exacerbated, since the eyes don’t have enough opportunity to recover.

Even if a person has never had eye or vision problems before, staring at a screen for long periods of time can lead to computer-related symptoms. Think about it; your teen uses a laptop or other device to write lengthy papers for school, read announcements and feedback from teachers, and socialize with friends. Smartphones are used extensively as both practical and social tools.

Perhaps your teen uses an electronic reading device (such as a Kindle) to read textbooks and study for exams. Then, to relax, your teenager may play video games with friends (in person or virtually) in front of a screen, and maybe even watch some favorite shows on TV. All of this screen time is normal for today’s teenagers, but it does take a toll.

What Are The Symptoms?

These are some of the main symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome:

  • Blurred vision, making it challenging to see clearly near or far (or both)
  • Eye strain, even both while staring at a computer screen and when trying to relax
  • Headaches that come and go or continue day to day
  • Eyes that feel dry and scratchy
  • Pain around your neck or shoulders
  • Additional forms of eye irritation

It’s important to note that symptoms may come and go. It’s possible to experience a spectrum of related symptoms, but one symptom may prevail over others. If your teen complains about headaches, for example, or a stiff neck, you may want to check if any of the other issues are present, too. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have your teenager’s eyes checked. As part of the exam, you or your teen can bring up symptoms and ask if they might be related to computer vision syndrome.

What’s Involved With Treatment?

As with any condition, treatment is personalized to address the overall problem along with specific symptoms that may prevail for each individual. Your optometrist can develop a custom plan that addresses your teen’s specific set of symptoms and brings much-needed relief.

Treatment may involve some of the following:

  • An up-to-date prescription: If your teen wears glasses or contacts (or sometimes one, sometimes the other), an out-of-date prescription can be contributing to and even aggravating computer vision syndrome symptoms.
  • Blue light protection glasses: To combat the eye strain created by staring at a computer screen for too long, your teenager’s optometrist may prescribe special glasses that protect the eyes from overexposure to the blue-violet light emitted by digital screens.
  • Dry eye treatment: If your teen’s symptoms include dry or irritated eyes, there are over-the-counter and prescription drops that the optometrist can recommend to provide relief.
  • Workplace changes: There are habits your teen (and anyone, for that matter) can adopt to diminish symptoms and alleviate computer-induced eye strain. We’ll go over some of these in the next section.

How You Can Help Your Teen

If you’re a teenager reading this blog, we want to empower you with some practical tips that will help you get the relief your eyes need without taking you away from your important screen time!

And if you’re a parent or caregiver, we encourage you to help your teen by offering the following pointers:

  • Eye breaks throughout the day: It’s very helpful to take short breaks every 20 minutes or so. Look up and away from your screen every 20 minutes, gazing off into the distance for at least 20 seconds. These short breaks offer a great opportunity to daydream or think about weekend plans!
  • Longer breaks every two hours: Every two hours, take a 15-minute break. Leave all screens behind; don’t look at your computer, phone, TV, or other screen-type device. Completely unplug from technology for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours. Make it a habit! Your eyes will thank you.
  • Improved lighting: We’re all guilty of staring at computer and phone screens in bad lighting. Remedying this situation is as easy as moving lights around or repositioning your computer to get rid of glare and achieve the lighting level that’s most comfortable for your eyes. Your optometrist can offer additional specific lighting suggestions.
  • Work area setup: For some teens, it’s helpful to set up a dedicated workspace and optimize it for comfort. Positioning your laptop just so can make a huge difference in terms of reducing strain on your eyes.
  • Change font sizes: If you’re finding yourself squinting to read what’s on your screen, make the font size bigger. There’s no need to make your eyes work so hard trying to read tiny print.
  • Use a humidifier: Especially in our dry climate here in the Colorado Springs and Monument area, running a humidifier can alleviate symptoms of irritated, dry eyes while you’re using your computer.

For Additional Assistance

Computer vision syndrome is a real issue in today’s world. It can affect anyone at any age who frequently stares at electronic screens throughout the day. If you or your teenage child need help to reduce symptoms and enjoy better vision and healthier eyes, contact Spectrum Eye Care for an appointment. We have ample experience helping our patients of all ages manage their computer vision syndrome-related issues.

Serving Monument, Gleneagle, and the greater Colorado Springs region, Spectrum Eye Care treats patients of all ages for improved vision and greater eye comfort. Give us a call to make an appointment for yourself or a loved one today!