Alamo Optometry Blog

January 14, 2009

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:22 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today January 2008 edition, pg.34)

Computer eyestrain affects more than 70 percent of the approximately 143 million Americans who work on a computer on a daily basis, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Eyestrain and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome don’t occur only in adults. Millions of children work at a computer and/or play video games every day, either at home or in school. Prolonged computer and gaming device viewing can stress a child’s eyes and may affect normal vision.

Computer eyestrain and computer vision syndrome are caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on a computer screen than they do to printed characters. Our eyes have little problem focusing on printed material that has dense black characters with well-defined edges. But characters on a computer screen don’t have the same degree of contrast and definition. CVS is caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on a computer screen than they do to printed characters. Words on a computer screen are created by combinations of tiny points of light (pixels), which are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward their edges. This makes it more difficult for our eyes to maintain focus on these images. If you or your child spend more than two hours per day in front of a computer screen, it’s likely you will experience some degree of computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of CVS include: headaches, burning and tired eyes, blurred vision, double vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

There are several things you can do to help with the symptoms of CVS. First, attempt to cut down on the glare at your screen by altering the lighting near your desk. Next, keep your head above the level of your monitor. This will allow you to be more ergonomically situated and reduce neck and shoulder strain. Permit yourself to take breaks from the monitor. Allow for a short 1-minute period of rest about every 30 minutes; look out a window, down the hall, get a drink of water, or just close your eyes to allow you to defocus from the monitor. Lastly, stay hydrated. We recommend drinking plenty of water, and using lubricating drops as needed. It is also recommended to reduce your caffeine intake, as it is a diuretic and dries your eyes out further.

However, the most important thing is to make sure you have computer prescription glasses, either single vision or progressives. Having an up-to-date prescription can definitely reduce the amount of strain and focusing necessary for continued monitor work. In addition, lenses with a good antiglare coating will not only make your lenses cosmetically look better, but will reduce about 95% of the glare from your monitor. Finally, studies are showing that low tints on the lenses will filter out some of the unnecessary light entering the eye, therefore making vision a little bit easier.

Since computer vision syndrome and playing video games is a mainstay in today’s society, we are introducing Gunnar Optiks glasses to the office. These specialized glasses are made with computer-specific tints and coatings to help reduce much of the symptoms of CVS. They can have no prescription (if you currently wear contact lenses), or can be made with your specific prescription in either single vision lenses or progressives. In addition to the prescription, coatings, and yellow tint, the frames have a high wrap, which helps control against airflow near the eyes, and allows the eyes to remain moist. Our display has most of the frames to try on with a computer screen so you can see the results for yourself.

We are finding more and more that CVS is not a condition for adults only. Children, with an increased amount of computer and video game use, are just as likely to have symptoms as adults. CVS requires a multi-factorial approach; ergonomics, current eyewear with coatings, staying hydrated, and taking breaks will all help to alleviate these problems. We are more than happy to discuss your optical and ocular health options and what would work best for you at your exam.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.

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