Computer Vision Syndrome: How Everyone Benefits from Accessible Technology

The computer has revolutionized how we learn, conduct work, and interact with other individuals; it has become a necessity for almost every single profession in our modern world. But using a computer carries with it some inherent risks. Prolonged computer use can lead to vision and other problems described by the American Optometric Association (AOA) as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

What is CVS?

CVS refers to a whole range of symptoms experienced by computer users. Effects of CVS include:

  • Eye fatigue and tired eyes
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Irritation of the eyes
  • Itching/Burning of eyes
  • Back pain
  • Blurry vision
  • General fatigue
  • Tension
  • Arm/Wrist/Shoulder pain

According to AOA estimates, workers in western countries spend on average 6 hours a day using a computer, which translates to 1,548 hours a year per person.

Prevalence of CVS

If you use a computer for more than 2 hours a day, you have a 90% chance of developing CVS. The AOA estimates that 50-90% of computer users suffer from visual symptoms related to CVS. As more people rely on computers for work, CVS is becoming a major public health issue. A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found a direct correlation between proper vision and productivity, suggesting that work performance can suffer by as much as 20% due to CVS.

How Assistive Technology can help with CVS

Assistive technology (AT) is not only meant for individuals with disabilities. Employees who rely on computers benefit from color contrast, text sizing and monochromatic settings to ease the symptoms of CVS. Not only does AT help alleviate symptoms of CVS, its can improve the expected productivity decline due to excessive computer use. Although certainly not a substitute for good computer habits, AT can provide tools to assist anyone’s computer experience.