Effects of Computer Use on Visual Acuity

We have lenses to help make your office work much more enjoyable at Artisan Optics in Boise Idaho


There is a growing body of evidence that the use of computers, tablets and smart phones can adversely affect visual health. Results of current studies report that visual acuity and color vision among computer users decreases with significant statistical value when compared to non-computer users. Vision problems associated with computer use is correlated to age and duration of exposure; while color vision is correlated to age. 


At Artisan Optics in Boise Idaho, we can help reduce eye strain while working on the computer


Computer use can be directly associated with visual acuity. Individuals who do not use computers are more likely to have more desirable visual acuities as compared to those who use computers. Frequency of computer use (daily, weekly, occasionally) directly correlates with visual acuity of the individual. Prolonged computer use is strongly implicated as a risk factor for visual dysfunctions, even if genetic factors may contribute. The decrease in the percentage of computer users with normal visual acuity as the number of years of computer use increases, supports the fact that years (duration of exposure) of computer use is a risk factor to visual acuity of computer users.


Vision problems associated with computer use were in the past identified exclusively as a workplace problem. However, as schools continue to adopt computer technology to enhance both the educational instructional methods as well as the overall educational experience, combined with students social networking, these computer-associated vision problems are expected to affect individuals at younger and younger ages.


Individuals who spend more than two hours a day on a computer will experience symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS); and there is a significant increase in the severity of symptoms as the duration of exposure (number of years one is exposed to computer use) increases. The vision problems associated with computer use has not yet been proven to result in permanent damage, but may result in reduction in work accuracy and decreased overall production by as much as 40%.


This is particularly alarming as the number of computer users continues to increase world-wide each year. Daily computer use ranges from five minutes a day to more than eight hours a day depending on workplace demands; and when combined with leisure activities using computers, tablets and smart phones the total combined hours of use dramatically increases.


Over the past decade there has been a shift to almost 100% computer use among many companies and academic institutions. Several studies have shown that ocular complaints occur in 75% to 90% of daily computer users. The most frequently reported vision symptoms include:


There are still conflicting reports on the relationship of the duration of computer use to the occurrence of asthenopia (eye strain). Some studies report an increase in the occurrence of asthenopia (eye strain) with the duration of computer use reported at 3 to 4 hours per day. In contrast, other studies have found that computer use of 78 minutes in duration increases the occurrence of asthenopia (eye strain). Asthenopia (eye strain) can lead to other problems, such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Lack of motivation

  • Reduced productivity


The primary cause of asthenopia (eye strain) is thought to be fatigue of the ciliary and extraocular muscles due to the prolonged accommodation and vergence required by near vision work. Specifically, computer eye strain is due to frequent, long saccadic eye movements, continuous accommodation changes, and continuous changes in vergence (alignment). This results in visual fatigue as the demands on the musculature of the eye exceeds the visual performance ability of the individual. Prolonged use of the computer causes symptoms associated with asthenopia, identified as Computer Vision Syndrome, and refractive error (reduced visual acuity) since accommodation is an active process requiring muscular effort and can therefore tire or fatigue. This causes strain to the eyes, especially the ciliary muscles, which can adversely affect visual acuity.


A secondary factor causing asthenopia (eye strain) is dryness of the eyes resulting from an increased exposed surface area of the cornea and a decreased blink rate due to mental concentration. The normal blink rate in human eyes is 16-20 per minute. Studies have shown that the blink rate decreases to as low as 6-8 blinks per minute for people working on computers, tablets or smart phones. Symptoms occurring in asthenopia, commonly identified as Computer Vision Syndrome, are:

  • Blurred vision

  • Difficulty in changing focus from near to far

  • Dry eye

  • Frontal headache with periocular pain

  • Intermittent diplopia (double vision) at near fixation

  • Occipital headache

  • Redness of the eyes


Asthenopia is a reversible condition. Refractive asthenopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Muscular asthenopia can be corrected with vision therapy, specifically accommodative and convergence training.


It is important that anyone using a computer, tablet or digital device such as a smart phone have regular professional, comprehensive eye examinations with an eye doctor; preferably with an eye doctor trained to diagnose and treat Computer Vision Syndrome and the associated conditions.


Ryan C. Johnson OD, FAAO is residency trained in Neuro-Optometry and vision therapy. He can accurately diagnose and treat symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. Dr. Johnson is in-network with most insurances and is accepting new patients – no referral necessary.


Your computer vision is important to us at Artisan Optics in Boise Idaho.

Posted by Artisan Optics at 6/30/2017 3:18:00 PM
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