According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) above seventy percent of employed persons that sit every day at a computer (over 140 million individuals) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome or eye strain. Prolonged periods of sitting in front of the computer can cause eye strain and effect eyesight in children and adults. If you are working at a computer screen longer than two hours on a daily basis you are likely to experience some level of computer vision syndrome.
Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
Extended computer use can result in many of the common signs of CVS such as:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain, Headaches
- Loss of Focus
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer eye fatigue and CVS are a result of the need for our visual processing pathways to compensate for processing text on an electronic screen in a different way than they do for characters on a page. While our eyes are used to keeping focus on printed material that contains dense black letters with distinct edges, they are less familiar with texts on a screen that don't have the same amount of clarity and definition.
Words on a digital screen are composed of pixels, which are brightest at the center and lower in brightness as they move outward. Therefore it is harder for our visual processing center to maintain focus on these letters. Rather, our eyes prefer to drift to a lower level of focusing called the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily move to the RPA and then have to make a great effort to regain focus on the text. The continuous strain on the eye muscles to focus results in the fatigue and eye strain that often appear with extended computer use. Computer vision syndrome isn't a concern just for those who spend a lot of time on computers. Other digital devices such as mobile phones or iPads can result in similar eye fatigue and in some cases more severe. Because the screens on handheld digital devices are often small the eyes have to work harder toward reading the images.
Treating CVS and Eye Fatigue
If you are at risk for CVS, you should make an appointment with an eye care professional as soon as possible.
At an exam, your eye doctor will perform tests to detect any vision issues that might contribute to symptoms of computer eye strain. According to the outcome of these tests, your optometrist may recommend ophthalmic computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. Additionally, you should strongly think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating lessens 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 Computer Vision Syndrome
Visual Ergonomics, or physical changes to your computer work environment to reduce strains in vision or posture, can help relieve 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 ophthalmic computer glasses is also a must.
If you would like to consult with a professional optometrist to speak about the signs and symptoms for computer vision syndrome, contact our Kennett Square, PA optometry practice.