Computer vision syndrome is a modern form of eye problem that often only lasts temporarily. However, if eye strain and dryness from CVS continue, these can lead to other problems, including changes in visual acuity.

If you are worried about CVS, there are special glasses that can help reduce eye strain. These should have anti-glare coating, blue light shielding, and might feature additional tinting. If you wear prescription lenses already, your computer glasses can have this prescription included.

Do not self-diagnose computer vision syndrome and get over-the-counter glasses. This can actually increase eye strain. Work with eye specialists instead.

Businessman working at office desk, he is staring at the laptop screen close up and holding his glasses, workplace vision problems

How Do I Know if I Have Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS), sometimes called digital eye strain, is a term covering a collection of vision-related problems caused by prolonged use of computer screens, tablets, or smartphones. Looking at a digital screen for an extended period without a sufficient break can cause headaches, eye discomfort, and long-term problems if initial symptoms are not resolved.

To moderate this eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away from you every 20 minutes.

Since computer and mobile screens tend to be close to the face, looking at something further away, especially that does not involve reading print or staring at a bright light, helps to alleviate tension in specific muscles in the eyes.

The following are the most common symptoms indicating CVS:

  • Eyestrain, including tired eyes or painful eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Shoulder and neck pain from poor posture

Uncorrected vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, can contribute to more uncomfortable symptoms from CVS. If you have corrected visual acuity problems, you can still develop CVS if you do not take care to monitor how long you have been at a screen and how uncomfortable you are after a day of work.

What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?

Young businesswoman using computer in dark officeLooking at a bright computer screen for a long time causes eye strain. Your eyes work differently when reading print on a screen compared to print in a book or newspaper. You may also develop eye strain if your computer screen is too high or low, or the tablet or smartphone is at an uncomfortable angle. Glares and reflections can also fatigue your eyes.

Computer vision syndrome is not caused by blue light or radiation coming from your computer screen, but overtaxing the muscles around your eyes by sitting in the wrong place, squinting, and moving your eyes in an unnatural pattern. Some additional strain may be added from not blinking enough. Dry eyes can lead to surface abnormalities and vascular problems in your eyes if not treated.

On a computer screen, images and text are created with pixels, which are miniscule points of light. There are thousands of pixels in any given image or word. However, our eyes have a difficult time focusing on images created by pixels, so we do not focus on one particular area as we would with a book, magazine, or newspaper. Instead, our eyes drift to the resting point of accommodation (RPA).

While we work on a computer, our eyes drift to the RPA, then strain to refocus on what we were just doing. Because this movement causes your eyes to continually flex and shift, the muscles responsible for moving the eyeballs become fatigued easily.

Early studies in CVS found that constant refocusing on the RPA led to spasms in the muscles around the eyes, which then led to muscle exhaustion and locking into place. From there, the eyes cannot relax easily, and this increased tension can cause minor changes in the cornea and eye shape. This then exacerbates nearsightedness if this condition is already present and induces temporary myopia if you are not already nearsighted.

If you think you have computer vision syndrome, get a comprehensive eye exam from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The eye doctor will determine what your symptoms are and if there are any other potential causes of eye strain. They will measure your visual acuity field and refractive error, and test how well your eyes focus together.

In addition to the 20-20-20 rule and adjusting your workspace, there are supplementary steps you can take to maintain your visual acuity. Some doctors may recommend special glasses that reduce glare and eye strain, not only to alleviate symptoms, but to reduce the risk that CVS will come back. After making sure your computer screen is about 20 to 26 inches from your face, your chair supports proper posture, and you blink frequently, glasses can also reduce strain from digital work.

What Should I Look for in Computer Vision Syndrome Glasses?  

Special glasses may help to alleviate eye strain while you work on a computer. These typically have anti-glare filters and reduce the constant refocusing pattern your eyes follow as you work. You may ask your optometrist about getting prescription CVS glasses, so your refractive error is corrected and eye strain is reduced. You may get tinted CVS glasses to reduce glare from bright overhead lights in your office.

Computer glasses typically have about 60 percent of the magnifying power of over-the-counter reading glasses, so they are not designed specifically to correct visual acuity. Working with your optometrist or ophthalmologist can help you get customized computer glasses. For example, it is important to make sure that the optical center of each lens is directly in front of your pupils. If this measurement is off, you can make your eye strain worse.

Types of computer glasses include:

  • Single vision, which are like standard glasses without any transition lenses or tinting.
  • Occupational progressive, which are progressive lenses that correct both nearsightedness and farsightedness, and reduce CVS. These typically have a larger intermediate zone from correcting nearsightedness to allowing for close-up work, which improves work at the computer but can reduce safety for driving.
  • Occupational bifocal and trifocals, which have larger intermediate zones like the progressive lenses.

Computer glasses should include:

  • Anti-reflective coating to reduce glare.
  • Photochromatic lenses to shield your eyes from high-energy blue light that comes from digital devices.
  • A subtle tint to reduce other wavelengths of light that may add to fatigue.

woman receiving glasses in front of eye exam

Optometrists and Ophthalmologists Can Help You Pick the Best Glasses for CVS

Even people who do not currently have computer vision syndrome symptoms may benefit from these special glasses, according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Optometry. The study reported that people working a lot on a computer with few breaks developed productivity problems even when they did not report tired or sore eyes, strain, headaches, and trouble focusing. This indicates that eye strain can lead to problems before other symptoms of CVS become apparent.

It is important to get a prescription for CVS glasses and avoid over-the-counter anti-glare or “computer” glasses. These are not the same, and they are not made to your specific visual needs, so they can increase eye strain rather than alleviate it. Working with an eye doctor ensures you get the right treatment for visual problems, headaches, and eye strain.

Top Brands of CVS Glasses

Given the importance of your eyesight and the investment involved, it’s probably better to get your computer glasses from a trusted brand with a reputation for quality glasses. Fortunately, several such brands have multiple sets of computer glasses, making it easier to find one that will protect your sightn and meet your budget.

Felix Grey

Felix Grey is the brand to go if you want to protect your eyes and still look stylish as well. It has both prescription and non-prescription glasses, and it also sells reading glasses.

Felix Grey has been in the eyeglass industry since 2016 and has become one of the well-known brands mostly because of the affordability of its frames and lenses. The company’s website is also helpful, especially on when it comes to picking the ideal frame size.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker is another popular brand from which you can source glasses for computer vision syndrome. It is a direct-to-consumer eyewear company with both online and brick-and-mortar locations. It is a bit on the luxurious side, but it manages to blend minimalist design with effectiveness.

Warby Parker’s glasses block 100% UVB and UVA rays, and their lightweight frames make them comfortable to wear. The brand also offers plenty of customizable options helping settle on what serves you best.

What’s also nice is the company’s mail-out, mail-back business model. You can pick up to five pairs of frames that you like. Warby Parker sends you the frames to try on at home in front of the mirror or in front of friends and family members. When you settle on the frame you like, you mail back the test frames (there are no lenses) and order the style you prefer.

Cyxus

Cyxus is another brand that offers both prescription and non-prescription glasses. Its products are affordable and readily available on Amazon. Affordability is not a compromise on the quality as Cyxus glasses come with a lifetime warranty. The company’s glasses are all also anti-glare, and it offers protection against UV 400 and ultraviolet radiation as well as eye strain.

Cyxus glasses can be excellent for gamers and designers since they, while filtering the light they do not distort screen colors. You get plenty of options in terms of rim styles, including full rims, clip-on and half-rims.

Tomahawk Shades

Tomahawk is best known for its trendy Tomahawk Shades, which are available in 13 separate classes and various styles. For protection against computer light, you want the Tomahawk’s BlueLight+ blue light glasses. These reduce the harmful blue-violet light and reduce digital screens' eye strain.

They help you have a better sleep and increase your effectiveness when working on the computer. They are also affordable, with top range models under the $100 mark. You will also enjoy the options available, with the glasses coming in more than 17 distinct styles.

Zenni Optical

Zenni Optical is another brand to consider if you want an effective pair of computer glasses but want leeway in picking your style. With more than 3,000 frame styles, there is no chance that you will not find what fits you.

They also top up your shopping experience with a virtual try-on to see how your glasses will look before you purchase them. You also have a short quiz that helps you find the right lenses for your specific needs.

FAQs

  • Do you need an optometrist to prescribe CVS glasses?

    Not really, unless you have been diagnosed with the syndrome. However, an optometrist can help you pick the right glasses for your specific needs.

  • How much do CVS glasses cost?

    Depending on the brand, CVS glasses can get excellent CVS glasses from $40 to just above $100.

  • Should you wear CVS glasses in place of your prescription glasses?

    No, as your prescription glasses afford you protection based on your specific eye needs. If you want more help when working with your computer, consult your optician to guide you on the best solution.

 

References

Computer Vision Syndrome. American Optometric Association (AOA).

Computer Vision Syndrome and Computer Glasses FAQ. (January 2017). All About Vision.

Are Computer Glasses Worth It? (April 27, 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Computer Vision Syndrome and Computer Glasses. (October 2003). Prevent Blindness.

Combat Computer Vision Syndrome. VSP.

Computer Glasses: Relieving Computer Eye Strain. (August 2017). All About Vision.

The 12 Best Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses of 2021. (August 2021). VeryWell Health.

The 12 best places to buy blue light blocking glasses — with or without a prescription. (June 2021). Insider.

Best blue light glasses for 2021. (September 2021). Digital Trends.

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