Findings from the American Optometric Association show that over seven out of 10 of employed persons that sit for the majority of the day on a computer screen (close to 143 million people) experience computer vision syndrome or eye strain. Prolonged periods of sitting at the computer can result in eye stress and effect typical vision development in children and adults. Anyone that sits more than 2 hours daily on the computer is at risk of some degree of CVS.
Symptoms of Computer Induced Eye Fatigue
Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome include vision problems such as dry eyes, blurriness, inability to focus or double vision and pain such as headaches, back aches and tired eyes. If you notice a number of these symptoms you may have CVS.
What Causes CVS?
Eye fatigue from excessive computer use is caused by the necessity for our eyes and brain to adapt to processing words on a digital screen in a different way than they do for printed words. While our eyes have little problem keeping focus on printed content that contains solid black font with well-defined edges, they are not as adept with letters on a digital screen that don't have the same level of contrast and sharpness.
Characters on a computer screen are formed by combinations of tiny points of light (pixels), which are most luminous at the center and dimmer toward the edges. Therefore it is harder for our eyes to maintain focus on this text. Instead, our eyes are inclined to drift to a less strained 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 regain focus on the screen. Such continual strain on the muscles of the eyes to focus results in the fatigue and eye strain that commonly occur with extended computer use. CVS isn't only a concern for computer users. Other handheld devices such as cell phones or tablets can cause similar eye fatigue that can be in some cases even worse. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are smaller the eyes have to work harder toward focusing on the images.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
CVS can be extremely draining so if you are experiencing these symptoms it is worthwhile to consult an optometrist sooner than later.
At a computer vision exam, your optometrist will check to see if you have any particular vision issues that could contribute to CVS. According to the results of these tests, your practicioner may suggest prescription computer eyeglasses to help you work more efficiently at your computer . An anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for computer glasses. Such a 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 computer.
Ergonomics for CVS
Ergonomics, or setting up your computer workstation to reduce the need for your eyes and your body to strain to accommodate, can help reduce some physical symptoms of computer vision syndrome. A well lit work area and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen will help to some extent. However, since ergonomics alone cannot resolve a visual problem, using prescription computer glasses is also required.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of CVS, contact our Winston Salem, NC optometry office.