Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are plaguing our patients! Why? Digital device use has increased drastically in the last few years. According to a 2014 study 84% of households have a computer, 73% of these have access to broadband internet (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/19/census-computer-ownership-internet-connection-varies-widely-across-u-s/). A large majority of occupations require interaction of some kind with a digital screen. These people are coming in complaining of eye strain, tired, watery eyes, neck and/or back pain. It is no wonder we hear this, as many of these folks are sitting in front of multiple desktop monitors, sometimes an added laptop or tablet not to mention the bombardment of Facebook notifications and text messages! Remember it isn’t just adults or “millennials” suffering from digital eye strain and CVS. Children also suffer. Many schools are now requiring children to use laptops or tablets to take notes or use eBooks rather than textbooks.
So what is the big deal?
-Eye strain and headaches during prolonged near activity may be symptoms of a poor binocular visual system or an over worked system. This may lead to decreased productivity.
-Watery eyes may be signs of dry eye due to computer vision syndrome or exacerbated by this. This can lead to extended damage to the ocular surface
-Musculoskeletal symptoms like neck or back pain could land you with unwanted chiropractic visits or stuck with workers compensation claims.
-Studies show that blue light may lead to damage of the retina increasing risk of macular degeneration. These studies also show that due to the high energy of blue light and our inability to properly focus blue light on the retina we interpret this “noise” as reduced contrast only adding to eye strain. Other studies have reported sleep disturbance associated with harmful blue light.
So what can we do prevent digital eye strain and Computer Vision Syndrome?
First one of our personal favorites is the 20-20-20 rule. If doing prolonged near work for 20 minutes or more at a time, take a break! During your break go for a little walk, stretch. Whatever you do on your break do it for at least 20 seconds and choose to look at something 20 feet away or further. This will help relax those tired eyes.
Also remember Harmon Distance. This is measured by making a fist then taking your middle knuckle placing it at the nose. The distance your books, laptops, phone etc. should be the distance between your middle knuckle to the end of your elbow.
Next you should evaluate your work station. Check out this article by allaboutvision.com to learn about work station optimization and ergonomics: http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/ergonomics.htm.
At the heart of all of these suggestions lies our vision. Varying distances require different demands, therefore the same prescription you may wear for driving may be either too strong or not strong enough for your near demands. The same progressive lenses you use while driving or going to the grocery store may not maximize your vision for the task that you are sitting several hours for in front of a computer. With a dedicated pair of computer glasses we are able to offer protection from blue light with specific anti glare coating which filter harmful high energy visible light (blue light). By incorporating a pair of “computer glasses” or “occupational glasses” with the above routines we are able to eliminate or reduce the tired, achy, watery eyes and neck and back pain our patients experience.
If you are concerned about how digital device use is affecting your eyes please give us a call, we would be glad to help!