Computer Vision Syndrome

What is computer vision syndrome? How does an Eye Doctor treat computer vision syndrome? Is there anything you can do at home to help with computer vision syndrome? These questions along with many others will be discussed in this article

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome has a large number of symptoms it can present with. These symptoms include dry eyes, itchy eyes, headache, blurry near vision, blurry distance vision, double vision, and a change in sleep patterns. If you want to read more about headaches please visit my previous article about headaches by clicking here.

How does computer vision syndrome cause so many problems?

We were not designed to stare at a computer, TV, tablet, or phone for hours on end, yet this is just what society asks us to do every day. Our educational system requires lots of screen time and parents are made to think that their child will fall behind if they don’t have access to these devices, but these devices also enhance the learning experience for the student.

The muscles are the first part of the problem

The first way that electronics mess with our eyes is by being so close to our faces. Our medial rectus eye muscles are forced to pull the eyes in towards our nose (think of going cross eyed) and then coordinate very small jumps to move from letter to letter and word to word. This can tire those eye muscles rapidly and lead to double vision and headaches. But these muscles aren’t the only ones flexing. Our ciliary body is also flexing to allow us to focus on words up close. The ciliary body I like to think of as my hands. If I clench my fists for a long time it gets really hard to open my hands up and relax. This is exactly what is happening to the ciliary body when you look at near objects for long periods of time.

Your ciliary body will get stuck in this flexed position. This is why it takes a little while to clear up distant objects after doing extended near work. 

The electronic devices are the second part of the problem

Blue light is given off more by electronic devices as a percentage of overall light than what is found in our normal environment. This blue light stimulates our brain and tells us it is time to wake up. We can look at a screen for days without tiring because of this. Your eyes will still tire out, but the brain thinks it is day time. Blue light also decreases our natural blink rate. This can make the eyes feel more tired, itchy, scratchy, and red. The lack of blinking will also lead to longer term dryness issues that I will discuss in a future article.

What can my eye doctor do to help computer vision syndrome

Now that we know how computer vision syndrome can cause problems let’s talk about ways to eliminate those problems.

The first way is by relaxing the eye muscles. We can remove some of the strain on the medial rectus muscles by putting prism in the glasses. Prism simply shifts the world. Think of prism as a way to trick the brain into thinking it needs to look in a specific direction. By tricking the brain into thinking it needs to look straight ahead we can help relax the medial rectus muscles. Now the eyes will still have to coordinate very tiny movements, but it will be under less stress.

The second way we can help the muscles is by putting in too much plus power or not enough miss power. This will allow the ciliary body to relax and not have to flex so hard. I often tell patients that I can under correct their distance power to make this happen. Distance will be a little fuzzy by doing this, but near vision will look great. 

What you can do to help computer vision syndrome

The next thing you can do is reduce the amount of blue light the device is emitting. You can do this in a few different ways.

The first is by going into the device settings and adjust the colors. Essentially what you are trying to do here is to reduce the blues given off by the device. You know you are doing it correctly if your screen starts to get a yellow tint. You can also buy a screen filter to put directly on top of the display. Here is a link to one of these devices. The downside to buying these filters is that they only work for the one device. In other words if you get it for your desktop the filter won’t help you with your phone or tablet. This would require you to buy multiple screen covers for all of your devices

The next way is by putting the filter into your glasses. Now we can currently do that in three different ways.

The first is by tinting your lenses yellow. The only positive to doing it this way is the cost. This is a pretty cheap way to do it. The downsides are that it is not currently in style to have yellow tinted lenses, some lens materials don’t absorb the yellow tint very well, and when looking out everything has a yellow tint to it.

You can also buy a blue cut material. The lens material itself has the blue blocker built directly into it. The pro is that it doesn’t give a yellow tint to objects. This is more expensive than the yellow tint and better in my opinion than just tinting. The cons to the blue cut lenses though are that it is currently not available in all lens materials. You also can’t just look at the lenses and know the blue blocker is there. It requires you to trust the company selling you the lenses. You also don’t get as much bang for your buck like you do for the last option.

The last option is by doing a blue blocker no glare coating. Price wise this is a little more expensive than the blue cut but you also get the added benefit of the no glare coating. This coating will help repel dust and dirt also. You can tell this is on the lenses by the lavender colored reflection it gives off if you hold the lenses up to the light. I prefer the no glare and have it in both mine and my wife’s computer glasses. It allows for a better overall appearance to the lenses themselves, and has more benefits than just the blue light protection.

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