We are in the age of vast technological advancements and one of the key features of today’s modern world is the big display screen of computers. From our phones to TV screens, and other digital screen devices, we spend most of our day staring at these brilliant pieces of art that we tend not to realize our eyes might be suffering as a result. Just as with anything else, there is time for work and time for rest. The more work you do, the more rest you would need, and the more work you do, the more strain you feel. Same with the eye, the more work you do with the eye, the increase in the potential for Computer Vision Syndrome(CVS).
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome also known as digital eye strain is a conglomerate of vision-related conditions and discomfort that occur as a result of staring at the display screen of a computer or other similar display devices for long, uninterrupted periods. There would be a subsequent strain on the muscles of the eyes. Being fixated to a computer screen without some provision of space in between for adequate rest would inadvertently lead a computer eye strain. Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, irritated eyes, dizziness, double vision, neck and shoulder pain, polyopia, difficulty in refocusing the eyes, and general body fatigue. However, in cases when lighting conditions aren’t optimal such as with glares, bright overhead lighting, or when air moves past the eyes from a blowing fan or overhead vent, then these symptoms could get further aggravated.
These symptoms and levels of discomfort increase with the amount of time spent staring at digital screens. The nature of most people’s jobs makes them spend so much time on their computers, tablets, phones, and the likes. And to top it off like the old-age saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” when the time comes to take a break, we are back staring at the screens of our TV or phones for the sake of entertainment. So, it seems almost inevitable that there would be that protracted stare at computer screens and other display devices for most individuals. What makes computer eye strain symptoms less of an issue is how much rest we give our eyes in between these activities.
Causes of computer vision syndrome (digital eye strain)
As mentioned earlier, focusing on a computer screen T.V., smartphone, tablet or other digital screen devices keeps the eyes busy and at work. And because most times, either while working on your computer screen or taking some time off to play a video game on your mobile device or watching movies on the TV, you get carried away and find yourself stuck for extended periods. This increases the likelihood of people being susceptible to computer vision syndrome.
Two of the main culprits behind Computer Vision Syndrome and Digital Eye Strain are Blue Light and glare. The uncomfortable effects of prolonged screen use contribute to many undesired symptoms including eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches, irritation eyes, and blurry vision.
If one was to compare reading from a printed copy to read from a digital screen, what would be discovered is that, it’s more demanding when it’s from a computer. This is mainly because the letters on these devices aren’t as precise or sharply defined, the contrast between the background and the letters is reduced, then, there’s the presence of reflections and glares which increases reading difficulty. This would lead to computer eye strain symptoms.
There is an increase in computer eye strain due to the presence of the glasses. The symptoms of computer vision syndrome could also become more pronounced when a task places more demands on the eyes of an individual than it can handle, especially in relation to duration. As long as this task is out of the comfort zone of the individual, the visual system would have to realign in a bid to acclimatize to the task, resulting in eye strain, the longer this goes on without adequate rest, the increase in the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Generally speaking, people who spend a minimum of two uninterrupted hours each day looking at computer screens are at significant risk of suffering from computer vision syndrome.
In general cause digital eye strain may be caused by:
- Screen glare and blue light
- Poor lighting
- Poor posture while using a computer
- Viewing a computer at the wrong distance and angle
- Uncorrected vision problems
- A mix of these things
What does computer eye strain feel like?
When there is a stretch in the eye muscles resulting in the strain, feelings of discomfort and unease are the first obvious things. Just like with anything that stretches beyond its comfortable position, the brunt of the strain would be felt by the stressed object until the pressure is relieved. The same goes for computer eye strain until there’s sufficient time of rest for the eye muscles, there’s every likelihood of increased prominence of the symptoms that accompany computer vision syndrome.
- Eye fatigue / eye exhaustion / tired eyes
- Eye strain
- Eye discomfort
- Eye ache
- Dry eyes / itchy eyes / irritated eyes
- Blurry vision / double vision
The above are the primary feelings that come with eye strain from over-exposure to computer screens.
How long does computer vision syndrome last?
Unlike certain conditions – medical or otherwise that could be categorized as chronic or acute, this is one that is highly dependent on controlling the factors that are the major driving forces behind it. Computer vision syndrome can easily be corrected once the cause of the strain is removed or properly managed. But first, there must be the awareness of the potential dangers this syndrome can cause if ignored and unattended to, mainly the incessant pains and discomfort. However, regardless of how long it is ignored for, once the trigger of the stressor is removed and adequate sleep comes into the equation, then the syndrome goes away all at once. So, to answer this short question of how long it lasts… Not long, as long as you are aware and you take the following steps to be mentioned soon to ensure you can still afford to work, read, and watch things on your computer, phone, tablets, or TV screens without worrying about developing a headache or neck and back pains, amongst other vision-related issues.
How to reduce computer eye strain?
Blink your eyes continuously – when you do this, you provide intermittent relief for the muscles of your eyes, quick rest phases, brief reboots… tears are formed and they help provide therapeutic relief for your eyes.
Ideal lightning – you could easily tell the difference when the lighting conditions around you are ideal, as your eyes would be more comfortable and there would less stretching to accommodate the rays from around every now and then. Good lighting is healthy for your eyes. The lights hung above should be kept to a minimum, bright enough, and not too low. Any light source meant for your table/workstation should be focused on the table, not on you. Rays of light from the window shouldn’t come directly at you, not at the front, nor at the back, but rather should be focused on your sides to brighten your surroundings. Blinds could come in handy, so use them, you should also get a glare screen. And finally, your computer screen should be properly positioned to prevent direct reflections from light rays coming in through the window or from the overhead lights. The most important thing is the light is meant to brighten your surroundings, not you, get out of the spotlight.
Use the 20-20-20 formula – take a little break in-between, every now and then. This formula expects you to take a step away every 20 minutes, using 20 seconds to look at something else 20 feet away. It helps you to relax your eyes and provides some comfort and relief. A key formula to help you reduce eye strain as a result of computer usage.
Using the correct pairs of blue light blocking glasses – if you own a pair of prescription glasses or contact lens and you are still having computer eye strains, there is a chance that it wasn’t actually made to ease your process of viewing computer screens. Therefore, going to have glasses or contacts made to suit screen use could be very beneficial for you in maximizing the time you can spend working or relaxing in front of your display screens. Your visual abilities would be optimized and you will generally be more comfortable.
Readjust your computer screen and working space – the distance from your eyes should be at a minimum of 20 inches. Ensure the brightness and contrast levels are right and the screen must be big enough. The centre of the screen should be approximately 4 to 6 inches below your eyes. Take your time to realign the screen settings to suit your eye’s comfort zone such as the resolution, font size, flicker, etc. and the screen should be placed in a position that you are looking at it slightly downwards.
Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or optometrist – do this and schedule an eye exam, asides your computer-vision problems, he/she would be able to look for signs of your general well-being to ensure you are very healthy. Plus, let’s not forget he/she might just recommend some single or bifocal lens thick enough, or with tint in them, that would help you filter out the glare from your screens and boost contrast levels. These steps wouldn’t only help to reduce eye strain due to prolonged computer use, they would also effectively help you prevent them from occurring in the first place. This way, you wouldn’t have to worry about possible symptoms as a result of digital eye strain. There is a saying the best treatment is prevention. So, the easiest treatment of computer vision syndrome is by preventing it altogether.
Do computer glasses reduce eye strain?
As pointed out already, yes, they do. When you have a pair of best blue light blocking glasses that have been prescribed for computer use, there would be a significant reduction in any potential for eye strain as a result of computer screen use or other display devices for that matter. Indeed, some studies were carried out which showed that reduced focusing ability is mitigated when a person wears small plus-powered pairs of glasses gotten over-the-counter with a power range of +1.00 to +1.50. These computer glasses or lens would often provide a boost in helping them regain their ability to focus on objects that are nearby. For people whose form of occupation requires lots of eye squinting and by extension, straining, these forms of glasses would also be quite helpful in reducing these symptoms and providing much needed relief.
A research study involving 36 participants carried out at Pacific University discovered significant differences in rates of irritation, tearing and watery eyes, burning eyes, as well as tired and dry eyes, with each person noticing remarkable improvements when using amber-coloured lenses versus plain lenses. However, when the study was carried out subsequently, about a year later, the same team weren’t able to replicate the same results. This is not to negate the potential positive impact that amber-coloured glasses or lenses could have in reducing the direct effect of bright light on the eyes. Further research has produced certain results which show that lenses with an ability to filter blue light could reduce certain aspects of light emissions. The rate of theoretical decrease in phototoxicity was between 10.6% to 23.6%. Melatonin suppression was also discovered to be decreased by 5.8% to 15.0% while scotopic sensitivity reduced by 2.4% to 9.6%. However, more than 70% of the participants in this study weren’t able to detect these changes. Technological advancements have led to a substantial rise in the availability of computers, televisions, mobile devices, and tablets, as well as other display devices for individuals which has indirectly lead to an increase in exposure to blue light. Some additional studies have found out that amber-tinted lenses and glasses produce some positive effect on the circadian rhythm and has helped in the treatment of delayed sleep phase disorder.
This article introduces computer glasses
What are computer glasses?
The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates the percentage of people, who spend at least three hours a day stuck in front of a computer or other display screens, affected by computer vision syndrome to be around 90%. A similar study carried out in Malaysia on 795 University students between the ages of 18 and 25 showed that 89.9% of them experienced headaches, eye strain, and other vision-related symptoms of digital eye strain. An average American spends eight hours every day in front of a display screen – phones, tablets, television sets, computers, etc. This explains the ever-increasing rate of occurrence of computer vision syndrome. The one thing that is undeniable is that yes, we basically are stuck with our devices.
However, we do not have to ignore the harm that over-exposure to these devices could do to us. Even though the harm might not seem irreparable or massive, the huge inconveniences, discomfort, pains, and potential for other unknown complications, makes it one that should not be taken with levity. Our digital devices should be used with special attention paid to how we can ease the strain on our eyes. After all, this beautiful pair of organs is our gateway to seeing and appreciating all the remarkable gifts of nature, technology, and science. So, while you find yourself spending most of your day using your mobile device and computer, also take some brief moments off to give your eyes some rest.
Ensure your workstation is well arranged to allow for proper light distribution and convenience. If you are currently using prescription glasses, have them checked by a professional, so if there needs to be an adjustment made to allow for increased suitability for computer screen usage, it would be made.
Even if you aren’t on prescription glasses, you could always try going for glasses or lenses that have been specially designed for computer use. This would significantly help to reduce the stress on your eyes. Computer vision syndrome might seem like a fancy name, but it is by no means a fancy condition. Take the necessary steps today!
References: Tsz Wing leung; Roger Wing-hong Li; Chea-su Kee (2017). “Blue-Light Filtering Spectacle Lenses: Optical and Clinical Perormances”. PLOS One. 12 (1): e0169114. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169114. PMC 5207664. PMID 28045969. Esaki, Yuichi; Kitajima, Tsuyoshi; Ito, Yasuhiro; Koike, Shigefumi; Nakao, Yasumi; Tsuchiya, Akiko; Hirose, Marina; Iwata, Nakao (9 April 2018). “Wearing blue light-blocking glasses in the evening advances circadian rhythms in the patients with delayed sleep phase disorder: An open-label trial”. Chronobiology International. 33 (8): 1037–1044. doi:10.1080/07420528.2016.1194289. PMID 27322730. Burkhart, Kimberly; Phelps, James R. (1 December 2009). “Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial”. Chronobiology International. 26 (8): 1602–1612. doi:10.3109/07420520903523719. PMID 20030543 Becoming a Squinter Nation Archived 2017-04-05 at the Wayback Machine, Wall St. Journal, August 17, 2010 Reddy, Chandrasekhara; Low (2013). “Computer vision syndrome: a study of knowledge and practices in university students”. Neoalese Journal of Ophthalmology. 5 (2). Archived from the original on 21 March 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. “What are Blue Light Blocking Glasses | “Simvey Computer Glasses, 2019,3,30