Findings from the American Optometric Association indicate that over seventy percent of employed persons that sit every day at a computer (around 143 million ) experience computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Excessive periods of sitting in front of the computer can result in eye strain and effect typical vision development in children and adults. Anyone that works over two hours per day in front of computer is at risk of some degree of CVS.
Signs of Computer Eye Strain
Prolonged use of the computer may lead to some or all of the common signs of computer induced eye fatigue such as:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Pain in Neck, Shoulders or Head
- Difficulty Focusing
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of CVS
Eye fatigue from prolonged computer use results from the necessity for our visual systems to adapt to processing letters on an electronic screen in a different way than they do for letters on a page. Although our eyes have little problem focusing on printed material that contains dense black font with sharp borders, they are not as adept with letters on a digital screen that don't have the same level of contrast and definition.
Words on a digital screen are composed of combinations of tiny points of light (pixels), which are most luminous in the middle and diminish in intensity toward the edges. This makes it more difficult for our eyes to focus on on these letters. Instead, our eyes are inclined to drift to a lower level of focusing called the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes move to the resting point of accommodation and then have to make a great effort to focus on the text. Such continuous strain on the muscles of the eyes to focus creates the fatigue and eye strain that commonly occur during and after use of a computer or digital device. Computer vision syndrome isn't only a concern for computer users. Other handheld gadgets such as mobile phones or iPads can result in the same symptoms and in some cases even worse. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are smaller the user often strains even more to read text.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
If you are at risk for computer vision syndrome, you should consult an optometrist as soon as possible.
At a computer vision exam, your eye care professional will perform tests to detect any particular vision problems that might worsen symptoms of computer eye strain. According to the outcome of these tests, your practicioner may recommend ophthalmic computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. Additionally, you should strongly consider an anti-reflective coating for computer glasses. An anti-reflective coating reduces reflections on the front and back surfaces of the lenses that cause glare and interfere with your ability to focus on images on your screen.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Ergonomics, or setting up your workstation to reduce the need for your eyes and your body to accommodate in unhealthy ways, can help reduce some physical symptoms of CVS. A well lit work area and frequent breaks can help to some extent. Nevertheless, since ergonomics alone cannot solve problems with vision, wearing prescription computer eyeglasses is also necessary.
If you would like to consult with a professional optometrist to discuss the signs and symptoms for computer related eye strain, contact our Manhattan, NY optometry office.