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Computer vision syndrome is a very real problem for those who spend hours in front of a computer.
When you work at a computer for any length of time (three hours or more), it is common to experience eyestrain, blurred vision and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Sometimes, simply rearranging your work environment to create better ergonomics is all you may need to do to reduce eyestrain and other vision problems related to CVS. For even greater relief, computer eyeglasses can help you see better at just the right distance needed for viewing a computer screen.
When you work at a computer for any length of time (three hours or more), it is common to experience eyestrain, blurred vision and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). This is because the visual demands of computer work are unlike those associated with most other activities.
If you're under age 40, eyestrain or blurred vision during computer work may be due to an inability of your eyes to remain accurately focused on your screen or because your eyes have trouble changing focus from your keyboard or documents to your screen and back again for prolonged periods. These focusing (accommodation)
If you're over age 40, the problem may be due to the onset of presbyopia — the normal age-related loss of near focusing ability. This, too, can cause CVS symptoms.
What can you do? For starters, have a yearly comprehensive eye examination to rule out vision problems and update your eyeglass prescription. Studies show that even small inaccuracies in your prescription lenses can contribute to computer vision problems.
If your glasses are up-to-date (or you don't need prescription eyewear for most tasks) and you continue to experience eye discomfort during computer work, consider purchasing customized computer glasses. These special-purpose glasses are prescribed specifically to reduce eyestrain and give you the most comfortable vision possible at your computer.
Computer glasses differ from regular eyeglasses or reading glasses in a number of ways to optimize your eyesight when viewing your computer screen. Computer glasses include special lens treatments to reduce glare and a unique tint designed to eliminate eyestrain.
Computer screens usually are positioned 20 to 26 inches from the user's eyes. This is considered the intermediate zone of vision — closer than driving ("distance") vision, but farther away than reading ("near") vision.
Most young people wear eyeglasses to correct their distance vision. Reading glasses are prescribed to correct near vision only. In addition, bifocals prescribed for those over age 40 with presbyopia correct only near and far. Even trifocals and progressive lenses (which do have some lens power for intermediate vision) often don't have a large enough intermediate zone for comfortable computer work.
Without computer eyeglasses, many computer users often end up with blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches — the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Worse still, many people try to compensate for their blurred vision by leaning forward, or by tipping their head to look through the bottom portion of their glasses. Both of these actions can result in a sore neck, sore shoulders and a sore back.
Though they sometimes are called "computer reading glasses," it is best to call eyewear designed specifically for computer use "computer glasses" or "computer eyeglasses" to distinguish them from conventional reading glasses. Computer glasses put the optimum lens power for viewing your computer screen right where you need it for a clear, wide field of view without the need for excessive focusing effort or uncomfortable postures.
Thomas Engle, Board Certified Optician can help you decide which lens design will best suit your needs for computer glasses.
For maximum viewing comfort, the lenses of your computer glasses should include anti-reflective lenses. Sometimes called anti-glare treatment, anti-reflective (AR) lenses eliminate reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses that can cause eyestrain.
Some eye care professionals recommend adding a light tint to computer glasses to reduce glare caused by harsh overhead lighting and to enhance contrast. Tinted computer lenses also are recommended to block short-wavelength, "blue" light emitted from computer screens that is associated with glare and eye strain.
Prior to scheduling your annual eye examination, measure how far you like to sit from your computer. Measure from the bridge of your nose to the surface of your computer screen. Bring this measurement with you to your yearly eye exam so your eye doctor can use it to help determine the optimum lens power for your computer glasses. University research also shows computer eyewear can significantly increase worker productivity.
Thomas Engle is a Board Certified Optician and Honored Fellow.