Computer vision syndrome refers to ophthalmic and visual symptoms that commonly occur among computer users. With more and more people exposed to prolonged use of computers in school, at work and even at home, it is not surprising that computer vision syndrome is a fairly common eye condition.
Its symptoms include the following:
• Blurred vision
• Burning feeling in the eyes
• Need for eye glasses
• Stinging eyes.
What we need to understand that eyes have not evolved to do computer work. Nor has the human body been designed to sit in a chair all day. Luckily no one dies or goes blind from this, but if not managed properly computer work can make your life miserable.
Here are some important statistics that can help you better understand computer vision syndrome:
• At least 100 million people in the United States use computers in their jobs every day. On the other hand, at least 95% of schools and 62% of classrooms in the country have computers.
• It will be similar in Australia proportionally. We are probably talking about 7 million people use computers every day.
• Around 25% to as much as 93% of computer users exhibit ocular symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome.
• Around 22% of computer users suffer musculoskeletal problems that include carpal tunnel syndrome as well as pain in the back, shoulders and neck.
• Research shows that 1 out 6 patients who require eye examinations are suffering from computer-related eye conditions.
• The cost of eye care examinations and special glasses for computer use is estimated to be a $2 billion industry.
While prolonged computer use is the main culprit that causes computer vision syndrome, there are other factors that can exacerbate the symptoms you are experiencing. Here are some of them:
• Your symptoms such as having blurred vision may be caused by uncorrected refractive errors like astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness.
• When you have a pre-existing dry eye condition, your ophthalmic symptoms of computer vision syndrome may worsen when you use a computer.
• If you are middle aged or older, you may be suffering from presbyopia. This condition decreases your near and intermediate visual acuities that you need when using a computer.
• You may be looking at your computer monitor at an erroneous angle of gaze. You have to adjust the set-up of your desk or your workstation to ensure that you are not straining your eyes and neck, among others, when you use your computer.
• The settings in your computer may be too bright for you. You have to adjust these so as not to cause discomfort to your eyes.
• You may have poor lighting in your workstation or your computer may be positioned in such a way that it is exposed to too much glare.
Things to Look Out For
When you exhibit symptoms of computer vision syndrome, you should have your eyes checked to prevent the condition from worsening. Your doctor will most likely inquire about the following things:
• Prescription of your current and past eye glasses
• Symptoms that you are experiencing such as dryness, stinging, tearing, blurred vision, photophobia, burning sensation and red eyes.
• Eye medications, including lubricants, you used in the past
• Existing medical conditions that worsen dry eye symptoms. These can include thyroid disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, xerostomia, menopause and carpal tunnels syndrome.
• Environmental conditions when you use the computer like seating position, desk set-up, type of monitor used, wrist position, window proximity, desktop color and sources of light from the ceiling and desk.
• Use of medications like anti-histamines, diuretics, anti-cholinergics and anti-depressants.
Managing computer related problems is a complex process. At The Eye Practice half the people we see every day have computer related eye issues. Our experience in this area allows us to not only evaluate the factors that contribute to your problem, but more importantly create customized solutions that will suit your lifestyle and type of work.