Findings from the American Optometric Association show that over seven out of 10 of the Americans that work for the majority of the day on a computer screen (over 140 million people) suffer from computer vision syndrome or eye strain. Prolonged periods of working at the computer can cause eye strain and effect normal vision development in kids and adults. Anyone that sits over 2 hours daily at computer is at risk of some degree of CVS.
Signs of CVS
Extended use of the computer can lead to some if not all of the usual symptoms of computer eye strain such as:
- Blurred or Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain, Headaches
- Loss of Focus
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer eye strain and computer vision syndrome are a result of the necessity for our visual processing pathways to adapt to processing words on a computer screen differently than they do for printed characters. While our eyes have little problem keeping focus on printed material that contains dense black font with sharp edges, they have more difficulty with characters on a digital screen that lack the same amount of contrast and sharpness.
Words on a computer screen are created by pixels, which are brightest in the center and lower in brightness as they move outward. Therefore it is more difficult for our visual processing center to maintain focus on these images. Rather, our eyes reduce focus to the ”resting point of accommodation” or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes revert to the RPA and then strain to regain focus on the images. This continuous flexing of the eyes’ focusing muscles results in the fatigue and eye strain that commonly are present with extended computer use. CVS isn’t a matter of concern just for computer users. It’s important to note that other handheld gadgets such as mobile phones or iPads can cause similar eye fatigue and in some cases more severe. Since handheld screens are often small the user often strains even more to stay focused on images.
Treating CVS and Eye Strain
CVS can negatively affect your productivity so if you are suffering from these symptoms it is worthwhile to make an appointment with an optometrist sooner than later.
During a computer vision exam, your eye doctor will perform tests to detect any vision problems that could worsen CVS. Depending on the outcome of these tests, your doctor may prescribe prescription computer glasses to reduce discomfort at your computer screen. Additionally, you should consider an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating reduces glare that may affect your ability to see images clearly on your computer.
Alternative Treatments for Computer Vision Syndrome
Visual Ergonomics, or changing your computer workstation to reduce the need for your eyes and your body to accommodate in unhealthy ways, can help relieve some of the discomfort of computer related eye strain. Sufficient lighting and frequent breaks will cause some relief. However, very often computer eyeglasses are also required to fully eliminate CVS.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of CVS, contact our Tupelo, MS optometry practice.