In our modern world, screens are a big part of reality. Want to check the weather? Pull up an app. Looking for a night out? Head to the theater and gaze at a screen. Need to take a photo? Grab your phone. We use screens every day, and often every hour to complete our daily tasks. You’re not going to escape screens, so let’s learn how to limit their impact on our vision. Does screen usage affect vision?
Computer Vision Syndrome- What Is It and How Does It Affect the Eyes?
Computer and screen use can negatively affect the eyes. Computer vision syndrome is the term used to describe any eye problems that result from extensive computer use. It is also known as digital eye strain. Computer vision syndrome isn’t one particular eye problem and includes many potential symptoms like:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye irritation
- Neck and shoulder pain
These symptoms often manifest after an extended period of using a computer. The problem often becomes more pronounced in older patients. You may also experience additional eye strain if you have glasses and do not use them or if you have an incorrect prescription for computer usage.
Why do computers cause eye strain? Simply put, looking at something on a computer is very different from seeing the same material on a printed page. Letters may not be as sharp or defined and viewing distances are different. Additionally, poor lighting, bad posture, and glare, all common with computer usage, can make eye strain worse.
Can Computer Vision Syndrome Cause Long-Term Vision Problems?
The jury’s still out on whether computers can cause long-term vision problems, but for your everyday comfort, this condition deserves some attention. We know that computer use can cause strain and discomfort. Talk with your eye doctor about your options for reducing eye strain when using the computer.
What Can I Do about Computer Vision Syndrome?
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce eye strain when using the computer.
- Follow the 20-20-20 Rule- If you use a computer often, the American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule to reduce computer related eye strain. The 20-20-20 rule only takes a few seconds to implement and can dramatically increase your comfort when using screens. The rule is simple: take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. When was the last time you gave your eyes a computer break?
- Properly Treat Vision Problems- Nearsightedness and farsightedness can increase eye strain. If you have glasses or contacts, wear them as directed when using the computer. Visit your eye doctor often to make sure you have an appropriate prescription for your vision.
- Avoid Glare- Reduce glare and increase contrast on your computer monitor. Proper lighting can also help you to see clearly when using the computer.
- Blink Often- When using screens, we blink less often, leading to dry eye. As you use the computer, focus on blinking. If you have dry eye, you may need to use eye drops to restore your eye’s proper moisture balance.
Could LASIK Surgery Reduce Your Computer-Related Eye Strain?
Many people don’t think of LASIK surgery as a treatment for computer vision syndrome, but it can dramatically reduce the symptoms in some patients. Correcting vision problems can reduce eye strain when using the computer and LASIK surgery is an effective option for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Since LASIK changes the shape of the eye, glasses and contacts often aren’t needed. This makes LASIK surgery a great option for patients that use the computer, but don’t faithfully use their glasses or contacts. We’ve seen many patients experience a reduction in computer related eye strain after LASIK surgery.
Eye Strain in Older Patients
Computer related eye strain often gets worse in patients over 40. As you get older, your eyes change. One notable change is in the flexibility of the lens, the part of the eye that helps with focusing. This condition is known as presbyopia and affects all adults eventually. Reading glasses can help treat presbyopia, but many patients don’t like to use them.
At Will Vision and Laser Centers, we offer the KAMRA corneal inlay. This ocular implant is placed into the non-dominant eye and helps improve focusing. It may be able to improve your vision when reading, working on the computer, and performing other up-close tasks.
Computers and other screens are an essential part of our technological lifestyles, and with a little extra care, we can protect our vision while using them. To learn more about LASIK surgery or the KAMRA inlay, call our offices and schedule a one-on-one consultation.