The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that above seven out of 10 of workers that work daily at a computer (which is over 140 million people) experience computer vision syndrome or eye strain. Excessive computer use can result in eye strain and impact eyesight in kids as well as adults. If you spend more than two hours each day in front of a computer you are likely to experience some degree of computer related eye fatigue.
Symptoms of Computer Induced Eye Fatigue
Lengthy computer use can lead to some or all of the usual symptoms of computer vision syndrome including:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain, Headaches
- Difficulty Focusing
- Dry, Burning and Tired Eyes
Causes of CVS
Eye strain from computer use is caused by the need for our visual systems to compensate for viewing words on an electronic screen differently than they do for characters in print. While our visual systems have little problem keeping focus on printed content that contains dense black letters with clear edges, they have more difficulty with letters on a computer screen that don't have the same level of clarity and definition.
Words on a screen are created by pixels, which are brightest at the center and dimmer toward the edges. Consequently, it is harder for our visual processing center to keep focus on these characters. Rather, our eyes reduce focus to the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily adjust to the RPA and then strain to regain focus on the screen. Such continual flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates the symptoms listed above that commonly are present with extended use of a computer or digital device. Computer vision syndrome isn't a matter of concern just for computer users. Other handheld gadgets such as smart phones or tablets can result in similar conditions and in some cases even worse. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are smaller the eyes have to put forth even more exertion into focusing on the text.
If you think that you might be at risk for computer vision syndrome, you should consult an eye doctor as soon as possible.
At a computer vision exam, the eye care professional will perform tests to detect any particular vision problems that could contribute to symptoms of computer eye strain. Depending on the outcome of the exam, your doctor may suggest ophthalmic computer glasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. You should strongly think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer glasses. Such a coating reduces glare that may affect your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Ergonomics for CVS
Ergonomics, or physical changes to 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. Sufficient lighting and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen can help to some extent. However, very often computer eyeglasses are also required to fully eliminate CVS.
If you would like to speak to a professional eye doctor to find out more about the risks and treatments for computer related eye strain, contact our Salmon Arm, British Columbia optometric office.