Computer Glasses for Computer Vision Syndrome - Are They Worthwhile?
If you spend long periods of time looking at a computer screen, you may be suffering from CVS! Computer vision syndrome, as CVS is more commonly known, is not an unusual problem with our modern lifestyle. It covers some of the main symptoms experienced such as blurred vision, eye tiredness and eyestrain brought about by the visual demands which a small bright screen creates before our eyes.
If you are under the age of 40 and suffering from blurred vision, it may be that your eyes are unable to remain focused on the computer screen for such long periods of time. Tired eyes or blurry vision may also be caused by the eyes’ inability to quickly change focus such as when looking repeatedly from keyboard to screen and vice versa. This is called a ‘lag of accommodation’ and is a common symptom associated with CVS.
However, if you are over the age of 40, your blurry vision could be due to a more common age-related problem: presbyopia. The human eye undergoes significant changes as we get older; the eye’s lens loses some of its flexibility, restricting the ability to focus on close objects. You may have seen people holding small print at arm’s length to read it. This is a sign of presbyopia and it happens to pretty much everyone, starting around age 40+. At this age the eye also begins to change shape and this too can affect the focus of close objects.
If you can identify with these problems, what should you do about them?
Step one: see your eye doctor
A thorough eye exam is the first step for everyone in this position. It is important for an eye doctor to see what’s happening within your eye to cause your problems, even though they may only be slight. A thorough eye test should be performed every 1-2 years to rule out any more sinister problems, especially if your eyesight changes. If presbyopia is diagnosed or you are found to be farsighted, nearsighted or have astigmatism, then eye glasses or contact lenses are the simple answer. Initially reading glasses may be sufficient to correct presbyopia, but as time goes by, glasses may need to be worn full-time.
During this selection process you should mention that you use the computer screen and have difficultly at times with your eyesight. You can then be prescribed glasses which are correct for computer work.
The benefits of computer glasses
Research shows that wearing eyeglasses can increase the productivity of workers. Even a slight problem with visual acuity can decrease a worker's efficiency. In a recent study, the University of Alabama School of Optometry examined the vision of computer users ages 19 to 30. They were checked before and during tests which involved reading various sized fonts on a computer screen. During these tests, participants were assigned to wear either computer glasses or non-corrective glasses. It was found that even a difference of 0.5 diopters from the exact lens prescription required lowered productivity by 9% with a 38% decrease in accuracy. According to this trial, employers should seriously consider the benefits of providing computer eyeglasses for their employees as a boost for productivity.
What if I already have eyeglasses?
If eyeglasses were prescribed for another purpose they are not likely to be ideal for computer work. This is because the computer screen sits 20-26 inches from your eyes. This is called the ‘intermediate’ distance for vision. The screen is closer than your distant vision, such as driving, but further away than typical reading material.
So while you may already have glasses to correct your myopia or hyperopia, or reading glasses or bifocals if you're over 40, these glasses aren't ideal for computer use. Even progressive lenses (also called multifocal lenses) do not have a large part of their lenses prepared for computer work. All these glasses were designed for a distance other than your computer screen and will not effectively do a good job.
Left unattended, or if the wrong glasses continue to be used for computer work, headaches and eyestrain will occur. They are the typical symptoms of CVS. Tipping your head or other awkward postures which develop when using the wrong glasses may also cause neck and back problems, and all for the sake of a pair of computer glasses.
Computer lens options
Simple computer glasses have correct your vision in one zone only, with a specific lens power which is focused on the typical computer screen distance. They give the widest field of vision, reduce eyestrain, correct poor vision and discourage bad posture.
Occupational bifocals combine computer vision on the top of the lens and reading vision on the bottom, with a distinct line between the two zones. Occupational progressive lenses are also very popular for computer use, and correct close-up, intermediate and some distance vision, but with a gradual change instead of a line. They have a larger intermediate zone than normal progressive lenses, but less distance area, and are therefore not suitable for tasks that require great far vision, such as driving.
Anti-reflective lenses are highly recommended to help reduce eyestrain caused by office lighting. This type of coating reduces glare and reflected light. A UV coating or “blue blocker” tint can reduce the amount of blue light entering the eye, which can further improve vision, especially in typical fluorescent office lighting.
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