Phone icon circle

Computer Vision Syndrome

Jannell Cuddy, OD

Computers have become a way of life for many of us. As much as we have to keep up with the changing technology, our eyes have to adapt as well. Recent topics addressing our eyes and screens have been bundled under the increasing number of people experiencing what we call Computer Vision Syndrome. Eye doctors, technology and lens companies have all had to keep up with the impact of this increased screen time on our eyes. The following is an overview of what options are out there to help improve our eyes ability to adapt to the increasing demand of screen use with our eyes.

One topic that has received a lot of attention lately is the amount of blue light that our eyes receive from increased time in front of screens especially during late evening hours. While some exposure to blue light occurs naturally in our environment and is needed to regulate circadian rhythm, studies are showing that long term cumulative effects of this can be damaging to the tissue in the back of our eyes in excessive amounts. The time of day our eyes are exposed to blue light seems to be an important factor in regulating our sleep cycles so those late night computer surfing sessions can affect your ability to fall asleep making for an all-nighter!

Lens companies have addressed this with a version of “blue-light blocking” lenses for computer and screen use such as Prevencia and BluTech. These work in conjunction with anti-reflective coatings to reduce screen glare. There are also several apps (F.Lux, Twilight, and iPhone Night Shift mode) that have addressed blue light by regulating their screen illumination based on the time of day.

Even with these resources to help with screen light we’re exposed to, we still have to account for the hours per day spent looking up close at our devices. We engage our eye muscles to focus up close. Imaging flexing a muscle for that long and the fatigue that would follow! A good rule to follow to accommodate long hours as the computer is the “20/20 Rule.” For every 20 minutes of continued computer use, relax your eyes away from the screen and shift your focus to about 20 feet away, and hold it there for 20 seconds. This will help keep your eye muscles and focus from building up accommodative tension and allow you to work longer to get that project done!

Computer users also blink less (more than half!) while using the computer. Blinking bathes the surface of the eye in tear creating a more comfortable viewing experience. Studies show that computer users often squint instead or don’t fully close the eye in blinking which contributes to dry eye. Sometimes supplementing the tear film with artificial tears can help with dry eye but also just remember to blink! (Yes there’s an app (EyeLeo, EVO) for that too!)

A comprehensive eye exam can help customize your glasses prescription for your computer needs as well. A comprehensive eye exam in our Optometry department includes near testing and a review of your “connected” lifestyle to let you know what options are available for you. There are many different designs of glasses that provide options for those experiencing computer strain; recently lens companies are designing “anti-fatigue” lenses that allow users to decrease digitally induced eye strain and allow users to go back and forth between different focal distances without any problems. Combined with light filtering technology, this design is helping prevent digital fatigue in those not quite ready for progressive design lenses where near challenges are more definite. Progressive design glasses (clears vision in close, mid, and far away) can be optimized for computer use as well. Come visit us at The Vancouver Clinic to see if we can help customize your eyewear to your lifestyle!