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Computer vision syndrome

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Eyes feeling fatigued? Follow the 20/20/20 rule.

If your eyes are feeling fatigued at the end of the day, it may be due to computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include blurry vision, headaches and strained, dry or just plain tired eyes.​

Man looking at a computer screenFortunately, there is something easy you can do about it. Just remember the 20/20/20 rule. When using your computer or other electronic device with a screen, every 20 minutes or so, look at least 20 feet across the room for 20 seconds.​​

This activates your distance vision and takes a break from near work. If you aren’t in a 20-foot room or are in a cubicle, take time to look out a window or simply close your eyes.

“Most people today spend an increasing number of hours using computers, tablets and smart phones to read increasingly small type,” said Dr. Brad Christopherson, optometrist at Marshfield Clinic Stevens Point Center. “For many of us, the result of all this screen time is eye strain.”​

According to national statistics, approximately 70 percent of Americans have CVS.​

People get CVS because electronic devices require them to do too much ‘near work,’ which strains the muscles in your eyes that focus on near objects and makes them tired,” Dr. Christopherson said. “The other problem with near work is that people tend to blink less and that causes eyes to become dry.”

He often hears people who work on computers all day complain tellingly that their "driving ​home vision" is worse than their "driving to work vision.”

In addition to the 20/20/20 rule, Dr. Christopherson offers these tips to help reduce CVS:

  • Place your computer monitor 25 inches away and tilt the screen so you look down as you work.
  • Blink often and remember that deep breathing relaxes eye muscles.
  • Keep some artificial tears – eye drops – on hand or consider a desktop humidifier to put some moisture back into a dry office.
  • Check your eyeglass prescription to make sure you have the correct refraction for your eyes.​

“I also recommend that you purchase anti-reflective coating for new eyeglasses, which creates no-glare lenses that result in fewer headaches and less eye fatigue caused by computer screens and overhead lights,” Dr. Christopherson said.

And don’t forget the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet across the room for 20 seconds.​


Marshfield Clinic Ophthalmology and Optometry (Eye Care) provides eye exams and treatments for eye disorders in Wisconsin including the cities; Marshfield, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, Weston, Eau Claire, Ladysmith, Minocqua, Park Falls and Rice Lake locations.