Computer Vision Syndrome

9:05 PM

Yes, Computer Vision Syndrome is a real diagnosis, and if you work on the computer for greater than 3 hours at one sitting, you likely suffer from it!  Extended computer use has been well documented to cause eye strain and fatigue, watering, burning, redness, dryness, blurry vision, and headaches.  Why is using the computer so detrimental to your eyes?  It is a really unnatural setting for our ocular system.

  • The computer is typically 2-3 feet in front of us, forcing our eye muscles to constantly "accommodate" or strain to focus
  • We blink about 50% less at the computer screen because our brain signals our eyes to stay open longer to process more information.  Basically you are staring.  For hours.  Without a break.
  • Not only is the screen unnaturally close and you are staring at it, there's also light coming from it, casting a constant glare that obscures vision
http://ergonomics.about.com/od/office/ss/computer_setup_2.htm
How can you improve your computer comfort?  Ergonomics are very important.  
  • Make sure your computer screen is not too close or too far away from you.  About an arm's length is correct.  
  • Make sure your computer screen is positioned about 15 degrees below eye level.  If the screen is above your eye level, your eyes have to stay wide open longer, causing them to dry out with time.  If your screen is below eye level, your top eyelids can hang down, protecting your eyes from drying out 
  • Take breaks about every 20 minutes to look at a distant point across the room and blink.  Allowing your eye muscles to rest from their constant focusing action at the computer can preserve their strength.  If your vision is blurry in the distance when you look away, and then takes a few minutes to clear, your eyes were working WAY too hard at the computer!
If your eyes get red, watery, or dry, you may need a rewetting drop for relief.  Over the counter tear drops can be used up to 4 x a day if they are not preservative free.  Do NOT use a red eye drop like Visine or Clear Eyes if you are suffering from these issues.  They will make your eyes look less red for a short time, but will only worsen the dryness that is causing your redness, causing a worsening of your symptoms!
Having your eyes checked by a professional is very important if you suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, even if you have never needed to wear glasses before in your life.  Even a small refractive error (vision anomalies) can create major strain and fatigue at the computer.  Often times, I prescribe my computer users with complaints low astigmatism or low "anti-fatigue" plus prescriptions to help relax their eyes.  Many times, these patients don't need to wear glasses for other activities, but their computer glasses just allow their eyes to better relax.  I always recommend an anti-reflective coating for computer glasses due to computer screen glare. Sometimes a yellow or amber tint can also help increase comfort by increasing contrast and reducing glare.  Think of computer glasses as doing the work for your eyes; an aid to help make your job easier and more comfortable!




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