Healthy Vision In Connection With Computers

People who sit in front of a computer or use other digital devices for long periods of time often encounter a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.

Headaches, neck strain, back aches and wristm pain are common, but sadly the most prevalant symptoms of prolonged computer use (eye strain, blurred vision and dry eye) are often overlooked. In fact, eye vision problems are the most frequently reported health care problems among computer and digital device users.

Computer Vision Syndrome

These symptoms contribute to computer vision syndrome (CVS), which we define as “the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work that are experienced during or related to computer use”.

Sitting at a computer generally causes a person to look straight ahead for long stretches and to blink less often. This problem is made worse if the work or home environment is dry. These factors can lead to vision problems. Additionally, computer use requires specific vision skills, which add further demands to the visual system and contribute to eye and vision discomfort.

Computer usage

Ocular Motility – The ability of the eyes to move to various positions.

Accommodation – The ability of the eyes to focus clearly and quickly at various distances.

Vergence – The ability to move the eyes in (convergence) or out (divergence) as the work distance demands.

Effects Of Working Environment

Computer work places various demands on the visual system. Each of these factors can play a part in contributing to digital eye strain.

Screen resolution

Better resolution offers greater clarity and usually leads to improved comfort. Adjust the resolution tot he highest your screen will support. If the increased screen resolution makes items too small, try increasing the font size to compensate.

Screen contrast

Adjust the contrast between the characters on the screen and the background so the letters are easily read. Adjust the screen brightnessto an intensity that is comfortable to your eyes – not too bright and not too dim. Adjust both brightness and contrast for the best clarity.

Working distances and angles

It is oimprotant to work at a distance that is comfortablefor you and where the image on the screen is clear. Having to move your head to an awkward angle to see the screen clearly suggests that your prescription may need adjustment.

Your general spectacle prescription may not be adequatefor computers

Ciomputers are usually further and higher than a typical reading task. Spectacles for most people wearing bifocals are not adjusted for this distance or angle and therefore often are not adequate for using at the computer.


Tips for healty computer comfortable vision at digital devices

Digital device user
  • While decreasing time spent at digital devices may not be an option, there are ways to maximise healthy vision for comfortable use of digital devices.
  • Have a reguler comprehensive eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy and that you have the correct spectacles or ctact lens prescription.
  • Be certain to tell the optometrist about the work you do on digital devices.
  • Wear spectacles that are specifically designed to function comfortably at the computer. The lenses you wear for day-to-day activities may not be the best for working on digital devices.

  • Rest the eyes.
  • Blink forcefully.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Instil artificial tears.
  • Do not forget to take occasional breaks & let the eyes look far away while resting.

Healthy Digital Device Use

Although the vision system faces considerable challenges when using a computer, most issues can be solved. Remember that the problems with computer usecause needless discompfort and may decrease productivity. Heeding the suggestion made here along with those made by your optometrist will enable you to use digital devices comfortably and productively.

A final word

In addition to computer use, today’s technology may help enhance learning and provide entertainmen, but many devices are still relatively new and the long-term side effects on the eyesare not yet fully known. Early-stage research on the blue light associated with many of today’s devices shows signs that overexposure and the obsessive way many of us stare at our screens may affect or even age the eyes. Be sure to watch for signs of digital eye strain, which can cause burning, itching and tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision, or head and neck pain.

Take frequent visiual breaks by practising the 10-10-10 rule: when usung technology or doing near work, take a 10-second break, every 10 minutes and view someting at 10 meters.

Article taken from the Digital Fact Sheet Fact Sheet by SAOA (South African Optometric Association)