The New Problem of Our Age: Digital Eye Strain

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) also referred to as Digital Eye Strainidentifies a group of eye and vision related problems arising from prolonged use of computers, tablets, e-readers and mobile phones. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for long periods of time. It is seen that the level of discomfort increases with the amount of digital display use.

Computer Vision Syndrome

The average American workers spend 7 hours a day in front of the computer while working in the office or from home. March is Save Your Sight Month, and the American Optometric Association educates both workers and employers on how to avoid digital eye strain. To help relieve digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule; Look at something from 20 steps, or 6.5 meters away, for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

The most common symptoms associated with Digital Eye Strain are:

  • Eye strain
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eye
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Things that cause the symptoms;
  • Poor (too much or insufficient) lighting
  • Glowing digital display
  • Incorrect viewing distance
  • Incorrect sitting positions
  • Vision problems
  • Combination of these factors

The degree of visual symptoms experienced by individuals generally depends on their level of visual abilities and the time spent in front of a digital screen. Untreated visual illnesses such as hyperopia, astigmatism, inability to focus or poor eye coordination, and changing eye conditions with age, such as presbyopia (myopia due to aging), cause visual symptoms when using computers or digital display devices.

The symptoms most users experience are temporary and will gradually fade after they stop using the computer or digital device. Of course, in some cases, people may experience persistent problems such as blurred vision even after quitting computer use. If the use is continued other than the conditions described above, the symptoms continue to recur, however, it can get worse when the use of the digital screen is continued.

Problems arising from Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Fatigue; In order to prevent or minimize its effect, attention should be paid to the lighting of the environment and the glitters on the screen, the working distance and posture should be appropriate, and finally, any problems should be treated immediately.

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

Looking at computer or digital screens makes the eyes work more. As a result, the extreme visual contact and peculiar features required by looking at computers and digital displays make individuals more susceptible to vision problems.

A group of children of all races are outdoors looking at the tablet.

Untreated eye conditions make Computer Vision Syndrome a more serious condition. Reading an article on digital screens is different than reading from a printout. The letters on the digital screens are not clear. The contrast to the background is low, and the screen glare and reflection make it difficult to read.

In this type of work, the working distance and angle is different from what is commonly practiced in reading and writing. Therefore, focusing and eye movements put extra strain on your visual system. In addition, the slightest eye disturbance greatly affects the comfort and performance of your computer or digital displays. Untreated or poorly treated eye conditions are a contributing factor to computer-related eye strain.

Even people prescription for glasses or contact lenses may not find this range of vision appropriate. Some people’s glasses are not designed for the computer, so they can turn their heads at odd angles. Or they lean towards the computer to see it more clearly. These postures may cause pain or muscle dysfunction in the neck, back and shoulders.

In most cases, CVS or Digital Eye Fatigue occurs because the visual effort required by the job is above the visual ability of individuals to do their jobs comfortably and appropriately. The greatest risk of CVS or Digital Eye Strain is when an individual spends 2 hours or more per day in front of the screen, without interruption.

How Is Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain Diagnosed?

CVS, or Digital Eye Fatigue, is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. With further emphasis on the requirements of digital device operating distance, testing may include:

  • Patient History; to identify the patient’s current health problems and any symptoms they are currently experiencing, medications they are taking, or environmental factors that may affect computer-related symptoms
  • Visual Sharpness Level; to assess to what extent the vision may have been affected
  • Break; To determine the appropriate lens strength to treat any refractive ailment (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism)
  • To test how eyes move together, work and focus. To perceive what is shown as a single and clear image, the eyes must be able to change focus effectively and work and move in harmony.

These tests can also be done without using eye drops used to determine how the eyes react in normal situations. Eye drops can be used in some cases, such as when the focus of the eyes is hidden. Eye drops temporarily stop the eyes from changing focus temporarily after the tests are completed. Your optometrist can determine if you have CVS or Digital Eye Fatigue with the help of the results from these tests and other test results and can make treatment recommendations.

How to Treat Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Fatigue?

There are various solutions for digital display related ailments. However, regular eye checks should usually be done.

Eye Care

People who do not need to wear glasses in daily activities can, in some cases, benefit from prescription glasses specific to computer use. Sometimes, those who already wear glasses may find that the glasses they wear are not suitable for computer use. Glasses written for general use may be insufficient for computer use. Prescription lenses may be required to meet the unique needs of computer use. Custom lens designs, lens strength, lens colors and coatings can help maximize visual capabilities and comfort.

Some computer users have problems with focusing or eye coordination that cannot be corrected with contact lenses or glasses. A visual therapy program is required to treat these problems. Eye therapy, also known as visual exercise, is a group of visual activities designed to improve visual ability. It enables the eye and brain to work together more effectively.

These eye exercises help compensate for the lack of eye movement, focus and eye coordination and strengthen the connection between the eyes and the brain. This treatment includes exercises that can be done at home as well as programs specific to the practice.

Use of computer

Some important factors to prevent or reduce CVS symptoms are related to how the computer is used. These factors include lighting conditions, chair comfort, equipment position, monitor position, and use of rest breaks.

Correct Sitting Position
  • Monitor Location – Most people find it more comfortable to look down while looking at the computer. Its optimal location should be 15 – 20 degrees (10 – 12 cm) below eye level, 50 – 70 cm from the eye when measured from the center of the screen.
  • Reference materials These items should be located higher than the keyboard and lower than the monitor. If possible, the files may be right next to the monitor. The main goal here is to place the documents in a suitable position to avoid turning your head between the documents and the screen.
  • Lighting – Place the computer screen in a way to prevent glare and reflections from ceiling lighting or windows. Use blinds or curtains for windows and replace the ordinary light bulbs in the table lamp with low voltage bulbs.
  • Anti-reflective screens – If you cannot prevent reflections by changing the lighting, these filters reduce the amount of reflected light.
  • Sitting position – Your seat should be cushioned and fit your body. Its height should be adjusted so that your feet remain flat on the ground. If they have arms, their arms should be adjusted to support your arm while typing. Your wrists should not rest on the keyboard while typing.
  • Rest breaks – To prevent eye strain, try to rest your eyes while using the computer for a long time. After 2 hours of continuous computer use, rest your eyes for 15 minutes. Also, after every 20 minutes of eye contact with the screen, looking away for 20 seconds will help your eyes refocus.
  • Blink – To minimize the risk of dry eye disease, make sure to blink frequently while using the computer. Blinking keeps the front of the eye moist.

Regular eye exams and proper vision habits help prevent or reduce the effects of Computer Vision Syndrome.

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