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Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of computers, cell phones, tablets and e-readers. Computer Vision Syndrome affects adults as well as children; and affects people who wear glasses, contact lenses, or use no vision correction at all.

Computer Vision Syndrome is a common problem, affecting up to 90% of the people who spend two or more hours a day using computers or digital devices. Children who use hand-held video game devices, tablets to access apps, or computers throughout the day at school are experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome at younger ages than ever before.

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

  • Blurred vision
  • Burning / itching eyes
  • Distance vision is blurry when looking up from the computer
  • Double vision
  • Driving / night vision is worse after computer use
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Letters on the screen run together
  • Neck / shoulder pain
  • Squinting helps when looking at the screen
  • Tearing / water eyes

Computer Vision Syndrome is similar to other repetitive stress injuries. It occurs because when working at the computer or using a digital device, the eyes continuously focus, move back and forth, and realign with what appears on the screen. All of these functions require a lot of effort from the eye muscles. This constant flexing of the focusing muscles creates fatigue, causes burning and tired eyes, and ultimately results in Computer Vision Syndrome.

What Cause Computer Vision Syndrome?

The human focusing system responds very well to text and images that have clear, well defined edges with sharp contrast between the background and the text or images. That’s why most people prefer to read printed materials with solid black text or images on a white background. This combination provides maximum contrast. However, the eyes and visual system react quite differently to electronic or digital text and images. Electronic, or digital, text and images, are made up of pixels – a series of very small dots. Each pixel is brightest in the center, with the brightness decreasing toward the outer edges. The eyes have a very hard time focusing on pixels. Instead, the eyes focus on the plane of the computer screen, but cannot sustain that focus. The eyes focus on the screen and relax to a point behind the screen, called the Resting Point of Accommodation (RPA) or dark focus. The RPA is different for each individual, but is commonly further away than the working distance to the computer. The working distance is the distance from the eyes to the front of the computer screen or digital device. So, the eyes are constantly relaxing to the RPA, and then straining to refocus to the screen.

How is Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosed?

Computer Vision Syndrome, or Digital Eye Strain, can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Eye examinations to diagnose Computer Vision Syndrome include testing with special emphasis on visual requirements at the computer or digital device working distance, and include:

  • Dilation
  • Testing for accommodative spasm
  • A prescription specific to the computer working distance
  • Using the appropriate lens type based on the specific work environment

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), computer users should have an eye exam before they start working on the computer and once a year thereafter.

How is Computer Vision Syndrome Treated?

The good news is, Computer Vision Syndrome can be treated. There are several types of lenses for computer glasses, and the specific type prescribed depends on the individual’s vision and specific work environment. Most often, a separate pair of glasses are needed for computer work. Computer glasses have a different prescription and lens type than a general purpose, every day pair of glasses or glasses used exclusively for reading.

For the greatest comfort at your computer, a specific prescription for working on the computer can be used to create customized computer glasses. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses, which can become uncomfortable during sustained computer use.

Caution should be used when purchasing ready-made, over-the-counter magnifying or reading glasses at drug stores or other general purpose retailers. The perceived benefit of buying off the rack is price. However, the problem is that these glasses are single vision lenses. This means they correct vision at only one distance. In addition, the correction is exactly the same in each eye – very few people have the exact same prescription in each eye. Using an incorrect prescription or wrong lens type can worsen the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.

Call today, or schedule an appointment online, with one of our doctors at Artisan Optics. Our doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating Computer Vision Syndrome.