My lupus causes a sensitivity to light, so working on the computer can really put a strain on my eyes. Several years ago, I had a seizure from what the doctors called Computer Vision Syndrome, and I now must wear computer glasses with special non-glare lenses if I am working for more than a few hours online. There are several factors I’ve found that contribute to computer eyestrain headaches, and a few solutions you may find helpful.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS, is caused by prolonged computer use. The symptoms are headaches, neck and shoulder pain, blurry vision and dry eyes. The symptoms worsen the longer you use the computer.
What Causes Computer Eyestrain Headaches?
Reading on a computer is different than reading printed words. Not only do you have a light shining in your eyes, but the print is not as well-defined, causing your eyes to focus harder to read. There is less contrast between the screen and the words than there is with printed material. Reflections on the screen force your eyes to try to block them out to focus more clearly. Posture, distance from the screen and poor lighting may also be contributing factors.
What Are CVS Headaches Like?
In my experience, the pain from computer eyestrain headaches starts behind your eyes, much like a sinus headache. It spreads into the top of your head and temples, becoming more intense. There may be shooting pains behind your eyes, and your nose may run, leading you to believe it is sinus or allergy related. The truth is that any time your eyes are irritated, your nose will run.
How Does Posture Affect Computer Strain Headaches?
If you are holding the computer on your lap, as I tend to do, and looking down at the screen, the strain on your neck muscles can cause the pain to spread into the back of your head. It helps to do exercises from time to time when working on the computer, as shown in this video by Dr. Kevin McDougal. If you are hunching your shoulders, adjust the height of your chair or your screen to improve your posture.
What Can You Do To Relieve the Pain Quickly?
It often helps just to walk away from the computer for a few minutes, close your eyes, or look up from the screen and focus on a spot far away. If headaches become severe, over-the-counter pain relievers are helpful. Lying down with a cold, wet rag over your eyes works well for me.
Computer eyestrain headaches can be debilitating and cut into your productivity. A few simple measures and exercises can help to relieve the pain before it becomes unbearable. An inexpensive pair of computer glasses may prevent them altogether. Remember that you only have one set of eyes, so take care of them.