Does Computer Vision Syndrome Contribute to Burnout?
Today, cases of burnout are on the rise. In this article, we’ll explore why Computer Vision Syndrome might have a role to play.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a disorder caused by chronic stress that leads to:
- physical and emotional exhaustion
- cynicism and detachment
- feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
Today, statistics show that burnout is affecting millennials in record numbers.
Burnout can leave you unable to function both personally and professionally. It is a condition which builds up over time rather than something that happens suddenly.
A personal account of burnout in a viral BuzzFeed news article provides a first hand insight into the condition.
What causes burnout?
Burnout may be caused by chronic stress but it’s challenging to pinpoint what causes this stress, and why burnout is becoming more common today than it used to be.
Popular publications often argue that our lifestyles are now more stressful than they used to be. For example, the effects of social media, lack of job security and the pace of technological change all arguably add new sources of tension to our lives.
It's hard to argue that modern life isn’t demanding. But, few of these explanations spend much time considering the physiological effects of the technology that we use on a day to day basis.
Staring at LED screens for most of the day is now normal. It didn't used to be. How does it impact our physiology, and how might this play into the onset of burnout?
Computer vision syndrome and burnout
The symptoms of burnout are well-documented. But, the role of LED screen use and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are being largely overlooked by mainstream media.
Computer Vision Syndrome is a term that is being used to describe some of the negative effects some of us are experiencing due to digital device display screens. We spend far more time in front of digital devices today than we used to.
Below, are some of the most common complaints of Computer Vision Syndrome:
- Dry eyes
- Eye irritation
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Temporary inability to focus on a distant object (pseudomyopia or accommodative spasm)
- Double vision
- Neck and shoulder pain
Is CVS the sole reason for burnout? No. Do some of the symptoms play a role in contributing during the build up of burnout? Maybe.
Digital device screens such as laptops and smartphones emit blue light which can affect our sleep patterns. Over time this can lead to us getting worse quality sleep - which can contribute to raising stress levels. Smartphones before bed don't help either.
In addition, glare from screens creates extra feedback which causes eyestrain. When we have strained eyes we may also feel physical pain such as headaches and neck aches. These symptoms can make it more challenging to focus properly. Being unable to concentrate and perform to the best of your ability can make it challenging to complete tasks. In a professional setting, it can add more pressure to external stresses such as deadlines or expectations from your team.
A recent study entitled, “Effects of job-related stress and burnout on asthenopia among high-tech workers”, found that burnout was a “significant contributing factor to the intensity and frequency” of CVS. Whether CVS contributes to burnout or vice versa, the study shows that the link between screen use and burnout is becoming more evident the more our lives revolve around technology.
What causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
Your eyes react to changing images on the screen so your brain can process what you’re seeing. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. Unlike paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare, which makes our eyes work even harder.
Our eyes and system are also sensitive to the light that our monitors emit. Blue light or high energy visible light has a particularly high-frequency that can make our eyes feel sore. Blue light also plays a role in regulating our sleep. Too much of it can make it more difficult to get high-quality sleep.
What you can do to defend against Computer Vision Syndrome
It's been estimated that as many as 70 million people are affected with Computer Vision Syndrome.
Tackling Computer Vision Syndrome won't address all the causes of burnout, but it could help to alleviate some of the stresses that are responsible for creating it.