The average American spends about 7 hours a day on electronic devices. Nearly 70% of those people experience an eye condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is a group of eye and vision-related issues resulting from prolonged computer, tablet or phone use. At higher risk are those who spend 2 or more continuous hours on an electronic device daily. In this day and age, 83% of Americans spend at least that amount of time on electronics as reported by The Vision Council, many of them suffering from CVS.
Being aware of Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms and getting your yearly eye exam can help prevent against serious damage related to digital eye strain. The most common symptoms include tired eyes, fluctuating or blurry vision (even blurred driving vision after work), dry eyes and double vision. The eye strain experienced can lead to dull headaches, typically around the eyes. In some cases, symptoms can result from uncorrected vision or the inability of the eyes to focus or coordinate together. Even the presence of minor uncorrected vision problems can lead to discomfort and poor work performance.
Computer Vision Syndrome can be diagnosed at The Eye Center beginning by taking a very careful history. The history will determine symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, burning or even maybe itching. Visual acuity is then tested to see if there is a need for prescription computer glasses. Lastly, the eyes are tested to see how well they focus and work together.
Treatment depends on the findings during your eye exam. Sometimes glasses may be prescribed specifically to be used for the computer. At The Eye Center, we recommend a special coating on the glasses called “Blue Light Filter.” Blue light is a harmful visible light emitted from all electronic devices. Blue light disrupts sleep which in turn can affect work performance. It also can impair memory and lead to poor attention span. Lastly, long-term exposure can result in certain eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Proper lighting and controlling glare on digital devices as well as establishing a proper working distance are also recommended. The preferred distance for computers should be about arm’s length or between 20-28 inches from your eyes to the screen. Bright lighting overhead can reduce eyestrain as well as reducing the glare on your computer with the use of filters or anti-glare glasses. You may find it helpful to increase the text size of your device to increase contrast and definition. We encourage the 20-20-20 rule which means to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes while viewing 20 feet and beyond. Also, remember to keep blinking. Blinking promotes excretion of special oils that prevent dry eye. Normally we blink about 18 times per minute but that is reduced to half when viewing electronics. Artificial tears or lubricating drops may help in these cases.
If you are experiencing computer-related eyestrain and symptoms, talk about your solutions with your eye doctor. Being aware of computer vision syndrome and receiving a proper evaluation by an eye care specialist is the best type of preventative medicine.