Protect your eyes: a particular concern for online students

iMac Desktop computer While online students face many of the same problems as traditional students on the ground, a different sort of concern can be raised out of the convenience that a fully online degree program can afford. What is it? It’s called CVS.

Computer Vision Syndrome, not to be mistaken with the lines of pharmacies, is the name for any host of optical issues that arise from regular computer use. The American Optometrists Association says that 75% of people who use computers suffer symptoms of CVS, and Peter G. Shaw-McMinn O.D. suggests that number is a conservative one.

Symptoms of CVS

  • Blurred Vision or Double Vision
  • Excessive Blinking or Squinting
  • Changes in Color Perception
  • Flicking Sensations or Glare
  • Eyestrain or Fatigue
  • Irritated, Dry, Itchy, Burning Eyes
  • Headache
  • Sore Shoulders or Neck

Ways to get relief from eye strain

eyedropsShaw-McMinn suggests taking frequent rest breaks. Try focusing on objects around the room. There are changes you can make to your working environment as well. You could lower the room lighting and use indirect light.

Artificial tears are available over the counter at many drugs stores. Many kinds exist including kinds that are formulated specifically for those who have conditions related to extended computer use.

There are also investments such as antiglare films, called “neutral density filters” for your monitor. It’s best to try to have your screen 20-26 inches from your face, at or below eye level.

Additionally, and often overlooked – it’s important to clear the finger prints and dust from your computer screen regularly.Trying to look past these will cause you to strain even more.

Modify your behavior

Optometrists also help train workers who develop CVS in blink training. “The typical patient normally blinks 16-20 times per minute, but with computer use it typically drops to 5-7 times a minute; that can often cause much of the patient’s discomfort,” Shaw-McMinn says.

Blink training will help you blink more often while you’re on the computer, which will help your eyes become not so dry, irritated.

reading glasses

A bit about protective lenses

The excess of bright artificial light from a screen and office lighting creates a strain on your eyes. Amber tinted lenses filters out the harsh, high energy part of the spectrum and creates a more gentle viewing experience and environment. If your eyes stay fresh and unstrained you can focus longer, work more efficiently, and feel more comfortable.

Amber tinted lenses, many with different kinds of coatings, are growing popular with office workers who spend long hours, many days a week, at a computer screen. These kinds of glasses are available from many different retailers, including optometrist’s offices. They will generally work with prescription lenses as well.

Know your habits

Regardless of your choice to invest in these kind of solutions, it is important to keep in mind the consequences of your habits as an online learner and how to best interface with this new frontier of education.


  • Aschwanden, C., Baker, M., Guterman, L., Jegelian, K.,Waters, R., & Yang, S. (1999). How to Evade Eyestrain. Health (Time Inc. Health), 13(3), 18.
  • Shaw-Mcminn, P. G. (2001). CVS. (cover story). Review Of Optometry, 138(8), 78.
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