The American Optometric Association (AOA) states that above seventy percent of workers that work daily at a computer screen (which is over 140 million people) experience computer vision syndrome or eye strain. Prolonged computer use can cause eye stress and effect eyesight in children as well as adults. Anyone that spends more than 2 hours daily at computer is at risk of symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Effects of Computer Induced Eye Fatigue
Prolonged use of the computer can cause some if not all of the common signs of computer induced eye fatigue such as:
- Blurred or Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain, Headaches
- Loss of Focus
- Dry, Burning and Tired Eyes
What Causes Computer Induced Eye Strain?
Computer eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome are a result of the necessity for our visual systems to adapt to viewing text on a computer screen in a different way than they do for printed characters. Although our visual systems are used to keeping focus on printed material that contains dense black characters with sharp borders, they have more difficulty with characters on a computer screen that don't have the same level of contrast and definition.
Characters on a computer screen are composed of pixels, which are most luminous in the middle and lower in brightness as they move outward. Consequently, it is more difficult for our visual processing center to focus on on this text. Instead, our eyes reduce focus to the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily move to the RPA and then strain to regain focus on the images. This constant flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates the symptoms listed above that commonly are present during and after use of a computer or digital device. Computer vision syndrome isn't a matter of concern just for those who spend a lot of time on computers. It's important to note that other electronic gadgets such as cell phones or iPads can cause similar strain that can be in some cases more severe. Because mobile screens are often small the user often struggles even more to stay focused on text.
Treating Computer Vision Syndrome and Eye Strain
If you think that you might be at risk for computer induced eye fatigue, you should consult an optometrist sooner than later.
During an exam, your eye doctor will perform tests to detect any vision problems that could contribute to computer vision syndrome. Depending on the outcome of these tests, your optometrist may suggest ophthalmic computer glasses to reduce discomfort at your computer . Additionally, you should think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer glasses. An anti-reflective coating eliminates glare that may interfere with your ability to focus on images on your computer.
Ergonomics for Computer Vision Syndrome
Ergonomics, or changing your computer work environment to limit strains in vision or posture, 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 will cause some relief. Nevertheless, since ergonomics alone cannot resolve a visual problem, wearing prescription computer glasses is also required.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer vision syndrome, contact our Mesa, AZ optometric practice.