Digital Vision Syndrome: How To Differentiate Eye Strain From Vision Deterioration


By Dr. Reena Choudhry

Early detection of eye diseases is crucial for timely intervention and effective treatment. With the rise in prolonged screen exposure on mobile phones and computers, individuals may experience symptoms of eye strain. However, it is important to distinguish between eye strain caused by screen exposure and the onset of actual vision deterioration. By understanding the symptoms associated with each condition, individuals can seek appropriate medical attention and ensure the health of their eyes.

Digital Vision Syndrome (DVS), commonly experienced by those who spend long hours in front of screens, manifests as symptoms of dry eyes and eye strain. The typical signs of DVS include tired eyes, mild redness that worsens after bathing, watery eyes, dry and itchy sensations, and a burning feeling. These symptoms usually improve with the use of lubricating eye drops. Additionally, individuals may face difficulty focusing, but this issue is transient and alleviated after taking a break from screens. While intermittent blurring of vision can occur with DVS, it is not consistent.

To differentiate between eye strain and actual deterioration of sight, there are certain warning signs that indicate the need for an eye examination by a professional:

  • Persistent Reduced Vision: If vision remains diminished and does not improve with rest, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.
  • Distortion of Vision: Any distortion of vision, such as straight lines appearing wavy or objects appearing distorted, should not be ignored.
  • Sudden Onset Decreased Vision: A sudden decline in vision, particularly if it occurs rapidly, requires immediate evaluation by an eye doctor.
  • Loss of Part of the Visual Field: If one experiences the sensation of a curtain or shadow obscuring part of their visual field, it is crucial to seek medical help.
  • Significant Eye Pain and Headaches: Eye pain accompanied by severe headaches may indicate a more serious underlying issue and should be addressed promptly.
  • Floaters and Flashes of Lights: The sudden onset of floaters (spots or cobweb-like shapes in the visual field) or flashes of lights can be indicative of retinal problems, necessitating a professional evaluation.
  • Redness with Discharge, Pain, or Reduced Vision: Redness combined with discharge, pain, or reduced vision could signify an infection or another ocular condition that requires medical attention.
  • Development of an Area of Loss of Vision: The appearance of a sudden, localized loss of vision should be evaluated immediately.
  • Double Vision: Experiencing double vision, especially if it persists or worsens, should be assessed by an eye care professional.
  • Haloes Around Lights: The presence of haloes around lights, particularly in low-light conditions, warrants a comprehensive eye examination.

Distinguishing symptoms of digital vision syndrome (DVS) caused by screen exposure from those indicating actual eye deterioration is crucial. Recognizing the specific warning signs mentioned above enables individuals to take proactive steps in seeking professional help and obtaining appropriate treatment. Regular eye examinations, including annual check-ups, play a vital role in identifying asymptomatic eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Detecting these conditions early is essential for preserving and maintaining optimal eye health.

The author is COO & Medical Director, ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, Sector 26.

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]

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