The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that over 70 percent of workers that work each day at a computer screen (close to 143 million people) suffer the affects of computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Excessive periods of sitting in front of the computer can result in eye strain and effect typical vision processes in children as well as adults. If you are sitting at a computer monitor longer than two hours daily it is probable that you will suffer symptoms of computer related eye fatigue.
Effects of CVS
Prolonged use of the computer may cause some if not all of the signs of computer induced eye fatigue such as:
- Blurry or Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain, Headaches
- Loss of Focus
- Dry, Burning or Tired Eyes
Causes of CVS
Eye fatigue from computer use is caused by the necessity for our visual systems to adapt to processing words on a computer screen in a different way than they do for printed words. Although our visual systems are used to keeping focus on printed content that contains dense black font with well-defined edges, they have more difficulty with characters on a computer screen that don't have the same degree of contrast and definition.
Letters on a digital screen are composed of pixels, which are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward the edges. Consequently, it is harder for our eyes to focus on on these letters. Instead, our eyes are inclined to drift to a less strained level of focusing called the ''resting point of accommodation'' or RPA.
Our eyes involuntarily adjust to the resting point of accommodation and then strain to regain focus on the text. Such constant strain on the muscles of the eyes to focus creates the fatigue and eye strain that often are present with extended use of a computer or digital device. Computer vision syndrome isn't only an issue for computer users. It's important to note that other electronic gadgets such as smart phones or tablets can result in the same symptoms that can be in some cases even worse. Since the screens on handheld digital devices are often small the eyes have to work harder toward reading the text.
Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome and Eye Fatigue
If you are at risk for computer induced eye fatigue, you should consult an eye doctor as soon as possible.
At a computer vision exam, your eye doctor will check to see if you have any vision problems that could worsen computer vision syndrome. According to the outcome of these tests, your doctor may prescribe ophthalmic computer eyeglasses to reduce discomfort at your screen. An anti-reflective coating is highly recommended for computer eyeglasses. An anti-reflective coating reduces reflections on the front and back surfaces of the lenses that cause glare and interfere with your ability to see images clearly on your screen.
Alternative Treatments for CVS
Visual Ergonomics, or setting up your work environment to reduce strains in vision or posture, can help relieve some physical symptoms of computer related eye strain. Adequate lighting and taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen can cause some relief. Nevertheless, since ergonomics alone cannot solve a visual problem, using ophthalmic computer eyeglasses is also a must.
If you think you are suffering or at risk of CVS, contact our Overland Park, KS optometric office.