Findings from the American Optometric Association indicate that above 70 percent of employed persons that sit for the majority of the day on a computer screen (over 140 million ) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Prolonged periods of working at the computer can result in eye strain and effect normal vision processes in children and adults. Anyone that sits over two hours daily on the computer is at risk of some degree of CVS.
Signs of Computer Eye Strain
Extended computer use can lead to many of the usual symptoms of CVS such as:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Pain in Neck, Back or Head
- Difficulty Focusing
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer eye strain and CVS result from the need for our eyes and brain to adapt to viewing letters on an electronic screen differently than they do for printed letters. Although our visual systems have little problem keeping focus on printed material that contains solid black letters with well-defined borders, they have more difficulty with texts on a computer screen that lack the same level of clarity and definition.
Letters on a screen are composed of pixels, which are brightest in the center and lower in brightness as they move outward. This makes it harder for our eyes to maintain focus on this text. Instead, our eyes feel more comfortable at the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes revert to the resting point of accommodation and then strain to regain focus on the text. This continuous flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates the fatigue and eye strain that commonly occur during and after computer use. Computer vision syndrome isn't a concern just for computer users. It's important to note that other electronic devices such as smart phones or iPads can result in the same strain and in some cases even worse. Because handheld screens are often small the user often strains even more to read text.
If you think that you might be at risk for computer induced eye fatigue, you should see an eye doctor sooner than later.
At an exam, the optometrist will check to see if you have any vision issues that might contribute to symptoms of computer eye strain. Depending on the results of the exam, your doctor may prescribe prescription computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your computer screen. An anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for computer glasses. An anti-reflective coating eliminates glare that may interfere with your ability to see images clearly on your computer.
Alternative Treatments for Computer Vision Syndrome
Visual Ergonomics, or setting up your work environment to limit the need for your eyes and your body to strain to accommodate, can help relieve some of the discomfort of computer vision syndrome. A well lit work area and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen can cause some relief. Nevertheless, very often computer eyeglasses are also required to fully eliminate CVS.
If you would like to consult with a professional optometrist to discuss the signs and treatments for CVS, contact our New York, NY optometric practice.