As we enter Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the workplace is experiencing an increase in vision problems. The good news? Many of these vision issues can be treated or avoided with a special type of prescription lens and good visual habits at your computer.
Let’s begin with an example: A graduate student came to The Vision Therapy Center complaining of blurry vision and headaches when working on her computer. It turns out the problem wasn’t entirely her vision, but her visual habits when working on the computer.
We prescribed a specific type of glasses to reduce eyestrain (we’ll touch on this later) and adjusted how she worked at her computer (distance from the screen, taking breaks). Within a week, her headaches were gone and her vision had vastly improved.
The student was suffering from computer eye strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). It’s a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. A recent survey found that computer work has resulted in 14 percent of reported eye problems, with many cases starting at a fairly young age.
The Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
One of the toughest aspects of recognizing workplace-related vision issues like CVS is how variable the symptoms can be.
In some cases, as with our previous example, CVS can cause major headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms can be much more subtle, such as general fatigue.
The following is a list of common symptoms associated with CVS:
* Sore eyes
* Blurry vision
* Increased myopia (nearsightedness)
A person suffering from CVS may experience all of these symptoms, or just one. To determine if these issues are being caused by CVS, schedule a functional vision test with a developmental optometrist.
A functional vision test goes beyond a typical eye exam. It can help determine if you have a problem with eye tracking, depth perception, or another visual skill related to CVS.
Reducing the Harmful Effects of Workplace Vision Problems
One method for reducing the impact of CVS involves prescribing special glasses for computer eye strain, which we refer to as 21st century reading glasses.
These lenses often have a very low power prescription, but can make a sizable difference. However, the first thing people often notice when they wear these glasses, especially if their CVS is mild, is that their vision might not feel immediately different.
That’s because these types of glasses don’t necessarily act like other prescription glasses, which cause a noticeable increase in clarity. The purpose of these lenses is not to make things clearer, but more comfortable, helping the eyes remain strong and alert and resulting in a much more productive 8-hour workday.
Beyond glasses, there are visual habits that everyone should incorporate into their regular workday to combat or prevent CVS:
1. Establish the proper distance - Keep the computer approximately 30 inches away from your eyes.
2. Work in good lighting - Always work on the computer in well-lit areas.
3. Sit straight and centered - Sit straight in a chair while looking at the center of the computer screen. Lying down or slouching can be especially harmful.
4. Rest your eyes - Rest your eyes every 15 minutes. Taking a little walk around the office or just looking away from your computer screen at a distant object for 10 seconds is sufficient.
5. Blink frequently - For most people, their blink rate decreases when they are looking at a computer screen. Being aware of your blink rate can prevent your eyes from feeling dry and uncomfortable.
Our computer dependency can lead to vision problems such as CVS. Keep in mind the typical symptoms, and consult with a developmental optometrist if they persist.