Managing Computer Vision Syndrome
Let's first take a look at a few basic facts about this new syndrome called CVS. Approximately 70 million people use a computer at work every day. An additional 70 million people play on the internet at home. In fact, there are more computers sold everyday than TV's. That's about 140 million people looking at a computer every day. We also need to be aware that our patients, from all different walks of life, use the computer everyday and may suffer from CVS.
Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
* Eye fatigue/eyestrain
* Blurred vision
* Double vision
* Difficulty focusing
* Loss of focus
* Eye irritation
* Dry eyes
* Neck and shoulder pain
What is CVS?
The American Optometric Association defines CVS as "the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work which are experienced during or related to computer use." It consists of a series of signs and symptoms computer users typically experience and may be caused by this near-point activity. Symptoms include eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, back and neck aches, dry eyes, diplopia and distorted color vision. The first step is identifying someone as having CVS. Many patients, however, do not relate there symptoms to computer vision syndrome. While any of the symptoms listed in the graph to the right can be associated with CVS, a combination of one or more of these symptoms should necessitate further investigation. There is a list of questions attached to the CVS Questionnaire link at the bottom of the page that we would like you to go through to see if you have symptoms related to CVS. We will be using the answers to many of these questions to help define what the root of the CVS problem is.
What Causes CVS?
Typically, four factors contribute to the development of CVS:
* The condition of your eyes
* Your prescription
* Your physical working environment
* Your work habits
Working at a computer requires a specific posture with specific positioning of the head, eyes and hands. We know that carpal tunnel syndrome has also reached epidemic proportions for many of the same reasons. Proper positioning is crucial in the treatment of CVS. We need to address many different components of CVS, which include monitoring distance and height, head position, desk viewing distances, general and task lighting, windows, glare and more. In most situations, CVS is due to a near point problem. We typically read things at about 16 inches away however, more computer stations have their associated visual tasks located at multiple distances. Our computer is at one distance and directions or location while our reading material is typically at a different location and in a different direction. What results is not only to move back and forth between multiple distances but also into different visual positions. Did you also know that the pixels on a computer screen are slightly more concentrated in the center of the screen than in the periphery? All of this causes varying stresses on our visual system, especially when it occurs all day long, everyday.
How can we Help?
Once we have identified CVS as a potential problem, we need to find out where the real problem is. Since we know that CVS is a near point problem, it makes sense to start there with multiple near point tests. The cause of CVS may be related to abnormalities in any of these tests. We need to test how you use your eyes together, your ability to focus or accommodate, as well as your range of accommodations. Finally, we should always test your computer Rx on them in front of a computer to check how you do in a real life situation. All of these factors become important when trying to decide whether to choose bifocals, progressive lenses, or some other form of reading Rx.
Many times, dry eyes and other types of ocular surface disorders can also cause a problem. We know that when we read or perform some near task for a prolonged period of time, our blink rate decreases. The result is increased dryness and unstable front tear surface.
Many times, we need to counsel you regarding the ergonomics of your workplace, in addition to giving you task specific glasses. We also tell you to blink more often and take a visual break. You need to look up and away from the computer screen every few minutes to prevent eyestrain caused from accommodative spasm. The blinking helps to spread the tear film and prevent the eyes from drying out.