Q: I have a headache and sore eyes from typing at my computer all day. What can I do?

A: Sore eyes and headaches are just two symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is a relatively common problem occurring in an estimated 70-75 per cent of computer users.

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
CVS can can result in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Uncomfortable, painful, irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches: vision-related headaches often occur toward the front of the head.
  • Double vision
  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Neck/shoulder/back aches from leaning forward to see better.

What you can do to feel better
The good news is that computer vision problems are preventable and solvable.

  • Get regular eye examinations to determine if you need corrective or specialized lenses.
  • Ensure your monitor is located directly in front of you, approximately arm's length away. For most workstations a 17-inch to 19-inch monitor is appropriate. Remember, the further away the monitor is, the bigger it should be.
  • Consider a flat screen monitor. This will eliminate flicker and help minimize glare.
  • Increase the font size. Use at least 12 point, or larger, if you continue to experience sore eyes.
  • Evaluate your lighting. When reading from the computer you require a lower level of room light because the computer monitor emits its own light.
  • Control outside light with blinds to prevent glare.
  • Ensure that humidity in your office is at 40 per cent or consider using a humidifier. Your eyes require moisture and we tend to blink less frequently when looking at a computer monitor.

Give your eyes a workout
Lastly, here are some exercises you can do to keep your eyes healthy at work:

  • Blink frequently to help keep your eyes moist
  • Close your eyes and cover with them with the palms of your hands. Rest your eyes in darkness for approximately one minute
  • Change your focal point every 20 minutes. Take a break and stare at something in the distance for 20 seconds.
Color picture of Connie A Glenn.

The Expert: Conny A. Glenn
is the President of Work Wellness Ergonomic Specialists Inc., and Executive Director of the Ontario Kinesiology Assocation. She is also an Ergonomist and Certifed Kinesiologist and works closely with agencies such as the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Arthritis Society.

The information presented on cnib.ca is not medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This material is for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your eye care or other health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on cnib.ca.