Findings from the American Optometric Association show that above 70 percent of the American citizens that sit each day at a computer monitor (over 140 million people) experience computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Excessive periods of sitting at the computer can cause eye fatigue and effect normal vision development in kids as well as adults. Anyone that sits over two hours daily at computer is at risk of symptoms of CVS.
Signs of CVS
Lengthy computer use can result in some if not all of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome for instance:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Pain in Neck, Shoulders or Head
- Loss of Focus
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
What Are The Causes of CVS?
Eye fatigue from excessive computer use is caused by the need for our eyes and brain to adapt to viewing letters on a computer screen differently than they do for printed letters. Although our visual systems have little problem focusing on printed material that contains solid black font with distinct borders, they are not as adept with characters on a digital screen that lack the same amount of contrast and definition.
Letters on a digital screen are composed of combinations of tiny dots of light (pixels), which are most luminous in the center and lower in brightness toward the edges. Consequently, it is more difficult for our visual processing center to maintain focus on these characters. Instead, our eyes feel more comfortable at the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Through involuntary movements, our eyes move to the RPA and then have to make a great effort to focus on the images. The continual flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles results in the fatigue and eye strain that sometimes appear with extended 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 devices such as mobile phones or iPads can result in the same eye fatigue that can be in some cases even worse. Because handheld screens are often small the eyes have to work harder toward focusing on the text.
CVS can be extremely uncomfortable so if you are experiencing discomfort it is worthwhile to consult an eye care professional as soon as possible.
At an exam, your eye care professional will check to see if you have any vision problems that could worsen symptoms of computer eye strain. Depending on the results of the exam, your doctor may recommend prescription computer glasses to help you work more comfortably at your computer screen. You should strongly think about getting an anti-reflective coating for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating eliminates reflections on the front and back surfaces of the lenses that cause glare and affect your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Ergonomics, or physical changes to your 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. Proper lighting and frequent breaks can cause some relief. Nevertheless, very often computer eyeglasses are also required to fully eliminate CVS.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of computer related eye strain, contact our Philadelphia, PA optometric practice.