Findings from the American Optometric Association show that above seven out of 10 of employed persons that work for the majority of the day on a computer screen (which is over 140 million people) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Prolonged periods of working at the computer can cause eye stress and impact typical vision processes in children as well as adults. If you are sitting at a computer screen more than 2 hours on a daily basis it is very possible that you will suffer some form of computer vision syndrome.
Effects of Computer Vision Syndrome
Extended computer use may result in some if not all of the signs of computer eye strain including:
- Blurred or Double Vision
- Pain in Neck, Shoulders or Head
- Difficulty Focusing
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of CVS
Computer eye fatigue and CVS result from the need for our visual systems to compensate for viewing characters on a computer screen differently than they do for characters in print. While our visual systems are used to keeping focus on printed material that has dense black letters with sharp edges, they are less familiar with characters on a screen that lack the same level of clarity and sharpness.
Words on a computer screen are created by combinations of tiny dots of light (pixels), which are most luminous at the middle and diminish in intensity toward the edges. Therefore it is more difficult for our visual processing center to focus on on these characters. Rather, our eyes want to revert to a reduced level of focusing called the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily adjust to the RPA and then strain to focus on the screen. The continuous effort by the eye muscles to focus creates the symptoms listed above that commonly appear during and after use of a computer or digital device. CVS isn't just an issue for computer users. It's important to note that other handheld devices such as mobile phones or iPads can cause the same symptoms and in some cases even worse. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are often small in addition to pixilated the user often struggles even more to focus on text.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
If you are at risk for computer induced eye strain, you should make an appointment with an optometrist sooner than later.
At a computer vision exam, the optometrist will check to see if you have any particular vision issues that might worsen computer vision syndrome. Depending on the results of these tests, your practicioner may suggest prescription computer glasses to help you work more comfortably at your screen. You should think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. Such a coating lessens glare that may affect your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Visual Ergonomics, or setting up your work environment to limit the need for your eyes and your body to accommodate in unhealthy ways, can help relieve some physical symptoms of computer related eye strain. Sufficient lighting and frequent breaks can help to some extent. However, very often computer eyeglasses are also required to fully eliminate CVS.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer vision syndrome, contact our North Vancouver, BC optometry practice.