Findings from the American Optometric Association indicate that over seventy percent of the Americans that work daily on a computer (over 140 million individuals) experience computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Prolonged computer use can cause eye stress and impact eyesight in children as well as adults. Anyone that works over 2 hours daily in front of computer is at risk of suffering from some degree of computer related eye fatigue.
Signs of Computer Eye Strain
Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome include vision problems such as dry eyes, blurred vision, inability to focus or double vision and pain such as headaches, back pain and tired eyes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may be suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome.
Causes of CVS
Eye fatigue from prolonged computer use is caused by the necessity for our visual systems to adapt to viewing text on a digital screen differently than they do for characters in print. While our visual systems are used to focusing on printed material that contains dense black characters with distinct borders, they have more difficulty with letters on a digital screen that lack the same degree of contrast and definition.
Words on a screen are created by combinations of tiny dots of light (pixels), which are most luminous in the center and lower in brightness toward the edges. This makes it more difficult for our eyes to keep focus on these characters. Rather, our eyes feel more comfortable at the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily move to the RPA and then strain to focus on the screen. The continual flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles results in the symptoms listed above that sometimes appear with extended computer use. Computer vision syndrome isn't a matter of concern just for computer users. It's important to note that other digital devices such as smart phones or tablets can result in similar eye fatigue and in some cases even worse. Because the screens on handheld digital devices are often small the eyes have to work harder toward reading the text.
Treating CVS and Eye Strain
If you are at risk for computer vision syndrome, you should make an appointment with an eye care professional sooner than later.
During an exam, your optometrist will check to see if you have any particular vision issues that could worsen computer vision syndrome. According to the results of the exam, your optometrist may prescribe prescription computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your computer screen. You should think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer glasses. Such a coating eliminates glare that may interfere with your ability to see images clearly on your computer.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Visual Ergonomics, or changing your computer work environment to reduce the need for your eyes and your body to strain to accommodate, can help reduce some physical symptoms of computer related eye strain. Sufficient lighting and frequent breaks will cause some relief. However, since ergonomics alone cannot solve problems with vision, wearing ophthalmic computer glasses is also required.
If you would like to speak to a professional optometrist to discuss the risks and symptoms for computer related eye strain, contact our North Vancouver, BC optometry office.