Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) an unintended consequence of Modern Teaching?

Computer Vision Syndrome becomes an unintended consequence resized 600

Computer usage is on the rise in the classroom, and its giving rise to an unintended consequence:  An increased risk of computer vision syndrome.

Students now have instant access to endless streams of information in multiple formats – video, text, music, anything.

Computers are a fixture in the classroom, as indicated by these statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics:
  • In 2009, 97% of teachers had one or more computers located in the classroom every day.
  • Internet access was available for 93% of computers in the classroom.
  • The ratio of students to computers in the classroom was 5.3 to 1.
  • Teachers reported that they or their students used computers in the classroom during instructional time (40%) or sometimes (29%).
Technology in the classroom, and at home, is exciting but it’s also resulting in Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
CVS is eyestrain resulting from near work on the computer.  It can cause headaches, sore eyes, blurry vision, fatigue, and potentially even myopia (near-sightedness) among students.

An article in the Wall Street Journal cited a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety, which indicates that CVS affects some 90% of the people who spend three hours or more per day at the computer.

That unintended consequence is the bad news of extended computer usage.  The good news is that visual problems can be offset if you practice good visual health while at the computer workstation.

As we noted in a previous post, there are techniques to help you avoid CVS.  These include:
  • Sitting on a chair with feet flat on the floor and legs at a ninety-degree angle.
  • Avoiding viewing computers screens, iPads, or smart phones while lying down on couch.  You should be upright and the screen should be straight ahead, not viewed at an angle.
  • Using the Harmon Distance (the distance from the big knuckle on your middle finger to the tip of your elbow) when viewing a screen. Note that many people hold smart phones too close to their eyes - especially children. 
  • Adjusting the level of brightness of your monitor for comfort.

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