Raise your hand if you spend three hours or more in front of the computer screen daily. If youre staring at this post with your hand in the air, youre not alone. Whether youre in school or in the office, work requires many of us to spend prolonged periods of time in front of a computer screen. This shift towards extended computer use has created a host of problems for our eyes; so much so that doctors named a new condition to illustrate the effects: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
Computer Vision Syndrome
CVS describes a group of eye and vision-related issues that result from prolonged computer usage, says the American Optometric Association. Symptoms include blurring, tired eyes, headaches, and sometimes the doubling of vision. Many individuals seem to experience such discomfort after extended periods of time in front of a computer screen. While the symptoms do disappear after rest, the level of discomfort increases with the amount of computer use. CVS can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination, and your optometrist can advise you on treatment options.
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
Viewing a computer screen is very different than reading a printed page or writing. Many times, the letters or images on a computer screen are not as clearly defined, the level of contrast between letters and the background is decreased, and glare and reflections on the screen make viewing more difficult.
The viewing distances and varying angles used for computer work are also different than reading or writing tasks that involve old-fashioned printed pages. Therefore, the eye focus and eye movement required for computer viewing can place harsh demands on the visual system.
How to Treat Computer Vision Syndrome
According to our Eye Health Guide, reducing eye strain from computer use is easy. When working on the computer, reduce both outdoor and indoor light. Be sure to minimize glare off of walls or off the computer monitor. Doctors recommend an LCD monitor, using a screen glare filter, and adjusting your monitors brightness and contrast so it is about the same brightness of your office. Blinking more often, taking short breaks throughout the day, and exercising your eyes may help reduce eye strain.
What Are Computer Glasses?
Glasses specifically made for computer use are another treatment option. The lenses of computer glasses are specially developed to deal with the strain a computer puts on the eyes. While most glasses either correct short or long-distance problems, computer glasses are designed to help with an intermediate distance of around 20 to 26 inches, which is the distance most people sit from their monitor.
Simple versions of computer glasses have a single-vision lens with a modified lens power to give the most comfortable vision of the users computer screen. The lens power relaxes the amount of accommodation needed to keep objects in focus at this intermediate distance. For maximum comfort, the lenses of the glasses should include anti-reflective coating to eliminate reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses. Some eye doctors recommend adding a light tint to computer glasses to reduce glare caused by overhead lighting and to enhance contrast. Tinted computer lenses also are recommended to block short-wavelength light emitted from computer screens that is associated with glare and eye strain.
There are over-the-counter computer glasses, but it is best to get a prescription from the optometrist. It is also helpful to measure how far you sit from your computer so the optometrist can give you the best prescription.
If you think youre suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome, see your eye doctor, and then check out our selection of computer glasses! Here’s to happy, healthy eyes!
Photo credit: Eye Care Professional Magazine