The American Optometric Association defines Computer Vison Syndrome as, “a group of eye- and vision-related problems that results from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.” The prolonged frequent use of electronic devices can make the eyes tired and dry. Many screens have glare, bright light, or poor contrast. Individuals with uncorrected vision or poor functional vision skills have to work harder to see and process the visual information presented on the screens.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people diagnosed with Computer Vison Syndrome was already on the rise. Now, in the pandemic's wake, the number of people reporting symptoms of Computer Vison Syndrome is booming. The increase in Computer Vison Syndrome may be related to the online solutions we are using to keep kids learning and people working. Unfortunately, the increase in screen time among our children and workers may pose unexpected health risks. The frequent, long episodes of exposure to computers, cell phones, laptops, computers, iPads, or other digital screens may be to blame for symptoms such as disrupted sleep patterns, headaches, eyestrain, fatigue, neck, back, and/or shoulder pain.
Luckily, there are several things your optometrist can do to help keep you working and learning safely in our digital world. For example, your eye doctor may prescribe stress-reducing lenses to reduce your visual strain. They may also suggest blue-blocking lenses that block or absorb the blue light waves produced by the electronic screens. Additionally, optometrists who test functional vision skills may identify other factors that can exasperate symptoms. For example, additional testing might reveal hidden visual coordination or visual perceptual problems. Poor vision skills can contribute to unnecessary to visual strain. If your eye doctor identifies poor focusing, tracking, convergence skills, or visual perceptual challenges, then they may prescribe a course of vision training. Vision training along with stress-reducing lenses, and or blue-blocking glasses for computer use just might be what you need to relieve Computer Vison Syndrome and restore comfortable vision.
If you, or someone you love, has headaches, muscle strain, blurred vision, neck back, or shoulder pain, eyestrain, dry eyes, or brain fatigue, be sure to schedule an appointment with your optometrist. Your optometrist has their sight on your health!
-Patti Andrich, MA, OTR/L, COVT