Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three million Canadians suffer from computer vision syndrome

Some 3 million Canadian workers suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, a condition caused by prolonged computer use.  In addition to that, a recent survey by the American Optometric Association found that 68% of young adults report a technology related vision problem. 

And as our nation has moved from a manufacturing society to an information society, Computer Vision Syndrome has become a workplace concern.  While prolonged computer use will not damage vision, it can make you uncomfortable and decrease productivity.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is caused by the eyes constantly focusing and refocusing on the characters on a computer screen. These characters don’t have the contrast or well-defined edges like printed words and the eyes’ focus cannot remain fixed. Symptoms of CVS include headaches, loss of focus, burning or tired eyes, blurred vision and neck or shoulder pain.

CVS can be partially alleviated by changes in the ergonomics of the work area.  Proper lighting and monitor placement can go a long way toward reducing CVS, as can giving your eyes frequent "breaks” from the computer. But the underlying cause of CVS – the ability of the eyes to focus on the computer screen – may only be remedied by specialized computer glasses.

A comprehensive eye exam, including questions about a person’s computer use habits is the first step. If we determine that vision correction for computer use is required, we can prescribe computer lenses that are designed to improve your vision in the 18” – 28” range, the optimal distance between your eyes and the computer monitor.

The right eye-wear can greatly improve your visual comfort.  One option that is popular with the patients at our clinic is Gunnar eye-wear by Zeiss Vision, one of the oldest optical companies in the world (founded in Germany in the nineteenth century). 

Gunnar lenses have a particular wrap designed to increase the humidity immediately in front of your eyes in order to combat the dry eye that comes from the fact people tend to blink less when they use the computer.

Gunnar lenses also change the frequency of the light that comes from computer and smart-phone screens to make it easier for your eye to absorb thus making vision more comfortable and making the screen easier to read.  The improvement in vision and visual comfort is immediate and dramatic and can be experienced just by trying on a pair at our clinic.