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The American Optometric Association estimates that half of those using computers on a daily basis suffer from eye strain.  Many jobs now require extended computer use, and the longer patients sit at the computer, the more likely they are to report symptoms of discomfort.  Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is widespread, aggravating, and typically quite easy to treat.  But what is it about a computer that causes such a headache (sometimes literally) and how can CVS be prevented?  Vista Eye Care in Thornton, Colorado is your family’s eye doctor, and we strive to educate our patients on their eye conditions and to help our patients achieve clear, comfortable vision throughout their workday.

No more tired eyes when you work at the computer!

Like it or not, many of our jobs now require the use of a computer.

You may already be familiar with computer vision syndrome.  Focusing problems, eyestrain, headaches, eye ache, tired eyes, burning eyes, dry eyes, watery eyes, and neck ache are all symptoms that are linked to CVS.  The confusing aspect of computer vision syndrome symptoms is that there are multiple factors that lead to discomfort.

When a person is busy reading or using the computer screen, their attention is preserved by lessening the eye’s blink rate.  By not blinking as often, the eyes are more prone to dryness.  Dry eyes are frequently connected to computer use because of this.  The solution is usually a pretty easy one: keeping the tears thickened with a good artificial tear.  Dr. Abert likes Systane Ultra, though other excellent brands include Refresh Tears and Optive.  These artificial tears are available in any pharmacy.  By increasing the viscosity of the tears, we can help keep the tears where they belong –on the front of your eyes between these blinks.  Now, even though your blink rate at the computer may be less frequent, the tears will remain adhered to the front of your eyes.  Eyes can also be dry because of the location of your computer screen.  It is recommended that your computer screen be located slightly below your line of sight so that your eyes don’t need to be opened excessively wide to comfortably view it.  Good positioning of the screen can also help improve neck posture.

Besides dryness, the fact that you’re looking at a computer screen means that you are doing near work.  For those patients with a small amount of nearsightedness, it might be most comfortable to view the screen without their distance spectacle correction on.  For those patients wearing contact lenses, or those that have had refractive surgery (PRK or LASIK), supplemental near power is an excellent way to reduce eye strain.  For the human eye to view near objects such as print-outs or computer screen images, the ciliary muscle located just behind your iris has to squeeze down on your crystalline lens.  This process, known as accommodation, allows the eye to shift its focal point toward you, keeping near objects clear and readable.  This is process, when affected by age, is called presbyopia.  This is usually something that is easy for the eye to do –in the short term.  If the eye has to remain focused on a computer screen for excessively long periods of time (say, for over a half hour), eye fatigue typically results.  It is far easier on your eyes to make the lens in a pair of computer glasses do that focusing for you.  The spectacle lens can focus your screen for you, leaving your eyes relaxed.  What does this mean for you?  Comfortable vision throughout the day and no more end of the day eye tiredness.  Our optical department is ready to help you achieve great vision during your workday.

Computer glasses can be made in a variety of forms including occupational lenses, flat-top bifocals, and single vision.  For folks spending more than an hour per day at a computer, we generally recommend occupational lenses such as Shamir’s Office lens.  The Office lens allows for excellent computer vision, as well as extra power at the bottom of the lens for reading even closer material such as paperwork, or for looking down at your desk.  The Office lens is easy to use, and you’ll be amazed how comfortable your eyes can be when they are not being unnecessarily strained.  Flat-top bifocals are a good option as well.  We typicall set the top part (largest part) of the lens for the distance of the computer screen, and provide a good reading power in the bifocal segment at the bottom of the lens.

Good computer vision starts with a good eye exam, and our annual comprehensive eye and vision examinations are thorough and will address your unique visual needs based on your job and hobbies.  Please call us today to schedule your yearly eye exam.