Saturday, May 26, 2012

Your iphone can be a pain in the eye

People who use computer, ipads, smart phones and play computer games commonly experience computer vision syndrome. It's not a new problem any more: the term “computer vision syndrome” was defined about 20 years ago when personal computer use at home and work became prevalent.

Computer vision syndrome describes eye-related problems associated with computer use. Studies have shown that computer work is demanding for the eyes with respect to eye movements known as accommodation and convergence and the visual strain of computer use increases with aggravating factors such as refractive disorders (near sightedness or far sightedness), convergence insufficiency, and screen and surface glare.

Computer vision syndrome includes eye-related symptoms such as dry eyes, tired eyes, and blurred vision and symptoms that are not eye-related such as pain around the eyes and in the neck and shoulders.

But what is responsible for eye muscle pain? In a study published in Optometry and Vision Science, researchers sought to determine whether eye pain was related to computer use. To do so the researchers designed a study to investigate the development of discomfort symptoms in relation to muscle activity and muscle blood flow in one of the eye muscles - the orbicularis oculi muscle - during computer work with visual strain.

The study's authors took a a group of healthy young adults with normal vision and recorded eye-related symptoms during a two hour working session on a laptop. Muscle load and blood flow were also measured.

The study's results show that during two hours of visually demanding computer work, there was a significant increase in the following symptoms:

  • eye-related pain and tiredness, 
  • blurred vision, 
  • itchiness, 
  • gritty eyes, 
  • light sensitivity, 
  • dry eyes, and 
  • tearing eyes. 

Muscle load in the orbicularis oculi muscle was significantly increased above the baseline measurement and blood flow increased significantly during the first part of the working sessions before returning to baseline. There were correlations between eye-related tiredness and orbicularis oculi muscle load and eye-related pain and muscle blood flow. Subjects who developed eye-related pain showed elevated orbicularis oculi muscle blood flow during computer work. So there you have it. Eye pain during computer use is not your imagination. It is real and we know the muscle responsible.

So how do you fight computer vision syndrome? Generally, specially designed computer or digital lifestyle eyewear can greatly reduce the eye strain and visual fatigue related symptoms of computer vision syndrome and even the neck pain that comes with it. Certain designs can even combat the dry eye that comes from reduced blinking when using the digital devices. Digital lenses like Essilor 360 can also greatly reduced visual fatigue and make your vision comfortable for long periods of time by using technology similar to that use in laser eye surgery to remove abberations that are present in traditional lenses .

Iif dry eye is a serious and prolonged problem, separate treatment for dry eye syndrome may be necessary.

Read our previous articles on computer vision syndrome: