According to the American Optometric Association over seven out of 10 of workers that work every day from a computer (close to 143 million people) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Excessive computer use can result in eye stress and effect eyesight in children as well as adults. If you spend more than two hours on a daily basis in front of a computer monitor it is probable that you will suffer symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Signs of CVS
Prolonged use of the computer can cause some or all of the common symptoms of CVS such as:
- Loss of Focus
- Burning Eyes
- Dry Eyes
- Double Vision
- Blurry Sight
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
Eye fatigue from excessive computer use results from the need for our visual systems to compensate for viewing words on an electronic screen differently than they do for printed characters. While our eyes are used to focusing on printed content that contains dense black characters with sharp edges, they have more difficulty with characters on a computer screen that don't have the same level of clarity and sharpness.
Words on a computer screen are composed of combinations of tiny dots of light (pixels), which are most luminous at the middle and dimmer toward the edges. Consequently, it is more difficult for our visual processing center to keep focus on these images. Rather, our eyes reduce focus to the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes adjust to the RPA and then have to make a great effort to focus on the images. This constant 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 those who spend a lot of time on computers. It's important to note that other electronic devices such as smart phones or tablets can cause the same conditions that can be in some cases more severe. Because the screens on handheld digital devices are often small in addition to pixilated the user often struggles even more to focus on images.
If you think that you might be at risk for CVS, you should consult an eye doctor as soon as possible.
During an exam, your eye doctor will perform tests to detect any vision problems that might worsen symptoms of computer eye strain. Depending on the results of these tests, your optometrist may prescribe ophthalmic computer glasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. Additionally, you should think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. Such a coating eliminates reflections on the front and back surfaces of the lenses that cause glare and interfere with your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Ergonomics for CVS
Visual Ergonomics, or physical changes to your work environment to reduce the need for your eyes and your body to strain to accommodate, can help relieve some of the discomfort of computer vision syndrome. Sufficient lighting and frequent breaks can help to some extent. However, since ergonomics alone cannot solve problems with vision, wearing ophthalmic computer glasses is also a must.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer vision syndrome, contact our Cincinnati, OH optometry practice.