The American Optometric Association states that more than seven out of 10 of the American citizens that sit every day at a computer (which is over 140 million people) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Excessive computer use can cause eye strain and impact typical vision processes in children as well as adults. If you work at a computer more than two hours on a daily basis you are likely to suffer some degree of CVS.
Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome
Prolonged computer use can cause some or all of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome such as:
- A Burning Sensation
- Dry Eyes
- Double Vision
- Blurred Vision
- Pain in Neck and Shoulders
What Are The Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome?
Eye fatigue from prolonged computer use results from the need for our visual processing pathways to adapt to processing characters on a computer screen in a different way than they do for characters in print. While our visual systems are used to focusing on printed material that has dense black font with well-defined edges, they are less familiar with letters on a digital screen that lack the same level of contrast and sharpness.
Characters on a digital screen are created by pixels, which are brightest at the middle and lower in brightness as they move outward. Consequently, it is harder for our eyes to keep focus on these letters. Rather, our eyes feel more comfortable at the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes revert to the resting point of accommodation and then have to make a great effort to regain focus on the text. This continual effort by the eye muscles to focus creates the symptoms listed above that often are present during and after computer use. Computer vision syndrome isn't a concern just for computer users. Other handheld gadgets such as smart phones or iPads can result in the same conditions and in some cases even worse. Since mobile screens are often small in addition to pixilated the user often strains even more to focus on images.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
Computer vision syndrome can negatively affect your productivity so if you are suffering from discomfort it is worthwhile to see an eye care professional sooner than later.
At a computer vision exam, your eye doctor will check to see if you have any vision issues that might worsen CVS. Depending on the outcome of these tests, your doctor may suggest prescription computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. An anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating lessens glare that may affect your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Ergonomics for CVS
Ergonomics, or setting up your computer workstation to limit the need for your eyes and your body to accommodate in unhealthy ways, can help reduce some of the discomfort of computer related eye strain. Sufficient lighting and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen can help to some extent. However, since ergonomics alone cannot solve a visual problem, using ophthalmic computer eyeglasses is also necessary.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer vision syndrome, contact our Frederick, MD optometry office.