Findings from the American Optometric Association indicate that over 70 percent of workers that work for the majority of the day at a computer monitor (which is over 140 million individuals) experience computer vision syndrome or eye fatigue. Prolonged periods of working at the computer can result in eye stress and effect eyesight in children and adults. If you are working at a computer monitor more than two hours daily you are likely to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Signs of CVS
Signs of CVS include vision problems such as dry eyes, blurred vision, inability to focus or double vision and pain such as headaches, neck pain and heavy eyes. If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms you may have CVS.
What Causes CVS?
Eye strain from prolonged computer use is caused by the necessity for our visual processing pathways to compensate for viewing characters on an electronic screen in a different way than they do for printed characters. Although our visual systems have little problem focusing on printed content that has solid black font with clear edges, they have more difficulty with characters on a computer screen that don't have the same level of contrast and sharpness.
Characters on a digital screen are formed by pixels, which are brightest in the middle and dimmer toward the edges. This makes it more difficult for our eyes to keep focus on these characters. Instead, our eyes are inclined to revert to a lower level of focusing called the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes move to the resting point of accommodation and then have to make a great effort to focus on the images. The constant effort by the muscles of the eyes to focus results in the fatigue and eye strain that often occur during and after use of a computer or digital device. CVS isn't a concern just for those who spend a lot of time on computers. It's important to note that other handheld devices such as cell phones or tablets can result in the same eye fatigue and in some cases more severe. Since handheld screens are smaller the eyes have to work harder toward reading the images.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
CVS can be extremely uncomfortable so if you are experiencing discomfort it is worthwhile to make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible.
At a computer vision exam, the eye doctor will check to see if you have any particular vision problems that could contribute to computer vision syndrome. According to the outcome of the exam, your optometrist may recommend ophthalmic computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your computer . You should consider an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. Such a coating reduces glare that may interfere with your ability to focus on images on your computer.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Ergonomics, or changing your work environment to limit strains in vision or posture, can help reduce some of the discomfort of computer vision syndrome. A well lit work area and frequent breaks can cause some relief. Nevertheless, since ergonomics alone cannot solve a visual problem, using prescription computer eyeglasses is also required.
If you would like to speak to a professional optometrist to speak about the risks and treatments for computer related eye strain, contact our Phoenix, AZ optometry office.