Eyeing New Technology

For Computer Vision Syndrome

by Jennifer LH Murphy, OD // April - May - June 2020

In this modern world, long hours using a digital device are a fact of life. It is how we work, learn, and relax. Whether it is on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, we are spending more time on digital devices. It has become such a normal part of our lives that we may not realize the strain it places on our eyes.

Computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, is a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged digital device usage. Many people experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing these screens for extended periods of time. Often the level of discomfort increases with the amount of digital screen use.

The most common issues associated with computer vision syndrome include eye strain, blurred vision, and dry eyes, which can lead to headaches, eye pain, and fatigue. These symptoms can be caused by glare from digital screens, blue light being emitted from devices, distortion from an uncorrected glasses prescription, and reduced blinking. The presence of even minor vision problems can significantly affect comfort and performance at a computer or while using other digital devices. Uncorrected vision problems can be major contributing factors to digital eye strain.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Lenses prescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing may be needed. Special lens designs, lens powers, or coatings may help to maximize visual clarity and comfort. These lenses take into account the specific viewing distances of a computer screen and can be customized for most work environments.

Computer glasses are different from regular glasses because they are specifically designed to help reduce eye strain associated with computer work. Glasses designed for these devices use custom measurements and lens options to help avoid an unnatural posture that can result in neck and back pain. They are recommended for computer users of all ages.

Single vision computer glasses have lenses with a modified prescription to give the most comfortable vision at a specific viewing distance. They allow the eye to relax by reducing the amount of work required to keep the screen in focus. These lenses also pro-vide the largest field of view, which may be ideal for those who use multiple monitors.

Multifocal computer glasses include occupational bifocal and trifocal lenses. These lined multifocal lenses have larger zones for intermediate and near vision than regular bifocals and trifocals, and the position of the intermediate and near zones can be customized for your particular computer vision needs.

The latest technology in computer glasses is the occupational progressive lens — a no-line multifocal that corrects distance, intermediate, and near vision. Occupational progressive lenses have a larger intermediate zone than regular progressive lenses for more comfortable vision at the computer. They are ideal for people who have a variety of tasks and visual demands throughout the day. While the distance vision is sufficient for most work environments, these lenses are not recommended for driving.

Modern light sources such as LED light bulbs, smartphones, televisions, computer monitors, and tablets all emit relatively high levels of blue light. Within the visible light spectrum, blue light has a shorter wavelength and higher energy, which can cause eye strain and potential damage to the retina. Studies have shown that this can increase your risk of macular degeneration.

More than half of adults spend at least six hours a day on phones, tablets, and computers. We use our electronic devices so often that we are gradually being exposed to more sources of blue light for longer periods of time. High quality anti-reflective coatings and blue light filters are encouraged in all lens types, but can be particularly helpful for those who spend multiple hours per day on digital devices. Pigments found within the eye also block blue light from being absorbed into the retina. The pigments come from the foods that we consume. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are especially high in blue light blocking pigments. Some eye doctors have the technology to estimate the amount of pigment in the retina, and if it is found to be low, diet modifications or starting on supplements can help to boost pigment levels.

Many people with computer vision syndrome suffer from dry eye. Symptoms include grittiness, burning, redness, and fluctuating vision. Dry eye can be incredibly frustrating and can negatively affect work productivity. Dry eye symptoms should not be dismissed as an expected aspect of working on digital devices for long hours. There are many treatment options in addition to over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, so be sure to discuss any dry eye symptoms that you have with your eye doctor.

Information your optometrist may use to customize your prescription includes duration of computer use, workstation arrangement, and number of monitors. He or she will also be able to determine if you need any treatments to keep your eyes comfortable while working on digital devices. It is important to have a comprehensive eye health examination every year to maintain an accurate prescription and monitor the health of your eyes. So, if you are suffering from computer vision syndrome, or are simply overdue for your eye exam, give your eye doctor a call today.

Jennifer LH Murphy, OD

With McPherson Family Eye Care, located at 3150 Rogers Rd., Suite 110 in Wake Forest.