Findings from the American Optometric Association show that above seven out of 10 of the Americans that work each day from a computer (about 143 million individuals) suffer from computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Prolonged computer use can result in eye stress and impact eyesight in children and adults. If you spend more than two hours on a daily basis at a computer screen you are likely to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome
Lengthy use of the computer may lead to some or all of the common symptoms of computer vision syndrome including:
- Loss of Focus
- Burning Eyes
- Dry, Tired Eyes
- Double Vision
- Blurry Sight
- Pain in Neck and Shoulders
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome are caused by the need for our visual systems to adapt to viewing words on a digital screen differently than they do for printed letters. While our visual systems have little problem focusing on printed content that has dense black characters with clear borders, they are not as adept with texts on a screen that lack the same amount of clarity and sharpness.
Words on a computer screen are formed by pixels, which are brightest in the center and lower in brightness toward the edges. This makes it more difficult for our visual processing center to maintain focus on this text. Instead, our eyes reduce focus to the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes revert to the RPA and then have to make a great effort to regain focus on the screen. Such continuous flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates the fatigue and eye strain that often are present with extended computer use. CVS isn't a matter of concern just for those who spend a lot of time on computers. It's important to note that other handheld gadgets such as mobile phones or iPads can cause the same eye fatigue and in some cases more severe. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are smaller in addition to pixilated the eyes have to work harder toward focusing on the images.
CVS can be extremely draining so if you are experiencing discomfort it is worthwhile to make an appointment with an eye care professional sooner than later.
During an exam, your eye doctor will perform tests to detect any vision issues that could contribute to computer vision syndrome. According to the results of these tests, your optometrist may recommend ophthalmic computer glasses to help you work more comfortably at your screen. Additionally, 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 computer.
Alternative Treatments for Computer Vision Syndrome
Ergonomics, or changing your computer work environment to limit the need for your eyes and your body to strain to accommodate, can help reduce some physical symptoms of computer related eye strain. A well lit work area 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 think you are suffering or at risk of computer related eye strain, contact our Centreville, VA optometric practice.