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Computer Vision Syndrome

Below is Dr. Baker's article on Computer Vision Syndrome from this September's issue of Active Aging Newspaper

Computer Vision Syndrome

Technological advancements in our society have made our lives easier in a lot of respects. Computers are commonly used now for a wide variety of tasks and many jobs now require at least some computer work with other jobs being done solely with the computer. Two general health problems have arisen out of this excessive use of computers, neck and back pain as well as stress on the visual system.

The numerous eye problems associated with computer use have been labeled “Computer Vision Syndrome” or CVS. Symptoms of CVS include eye pain, eyestrain, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. These symptoms all arise as a result of staring at a screen that often has poor contrast for hours at a time. The visual system is under a lot of stress trying to maintain clarity under these conditions. Small amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that are not corrected can cause visual strain. Secondarily, as we mature, we start to lose our focusing capabilities as a part of the normal aging process. This condition, called presbyopia, can make computer use more difficult.

Dry eye symptoms are also often associated with computer use. The symptoms of dry eye include tired, scratchy, irritated, red eyes, and often intermittently blurred vision. Studies have shown that people actually tend to blink 50% less while doing computer work versus normal tasks. This is often made worse toward the end of the day and varies with the humidity of the environment.

Treatment for CVS starts with determining your refractive error and correcting even small amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. For those individuals that normally wear bifocals that still have difficulties maintaining visual clarity and comfort, specialty computer glasses are often prescribed. This may consist of single vision computer glasses or a bifocal, which has the top portion corrected for your computer distance, and the bottom corrected to read smaller documents that you would need to see periodically while you are on the computer. These computer specific bifocals can be either lined or no-line bifocals. In addition, we recommend that all computer glasses be coated with an anti-reflective coating to cut glare from the computer screen as well as overhead fluorescent lighting.

Please be sure to mention to your doctor how many hours per day you use a computer and if you are having any symptoms of eyestrain, eye fatigue, eye pain or blurred vision. If so, you may have computer vision syndrome.