Computers and Eyesight. What You Need to Know

With so many screens to stare at: computers, tablets, iPads, Smart Phones; and so much work being done electronically, people are left with one big question. Is all this time staring at a computer screen harming my eyes? The simple answer is, it can if you aren’t careful.

Computer Vision Syndrome

There are two names that are used interchangeably to describe the same eye condition, which results from excessive computer use.  These are Computer Vision Syndrome and Digital Eye Strain. The symptoms are dry, irritated eyes, headaches, blurred vision, red eyes, often accompanied by neck and shoulder strain and back pain.

HEV Light and Your Vision

Computers and other digital screens emit HEV or blue light. While HEV light is nowhere near as dangerous to your vision as UV light, prolonged exposure can adversely affect your eyesight. Long term exposure to HEV light, especially in close proximity, can damage the retina and may cause macular degeneration.  It will certainly cause eye strain leading to Computer Vision Syndrome.

Contributing Factors to Digital Eye Strain

If you already wear glasses or have existing eye problems, you are will be more susceptible to getting Digital Eye Strain. You are also more likely to develop it as you get older, because your eyes can’t adjust as easily. However, the biggest contributing factor is prolonged exposure, and this is a factor that affects children as well as adults.  Simply put, if you spend endless hours staring at a digital screen, be it computer, tablet or Smart Phone, it will affect your vision.

Eyewear to Help Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

One way of reducing the risk of computer related eye strain is to get intermediate vision glasses, made specifically for computer use. Since your computer screen is usually farther away from you than normal reading distance, yet closer than driving distance, normal lenses, even progressive lenses, are usually not suited to your needs. Specially made computer lenses can be either single vision or progressive lenses and are meant for that mid-distance usually used for computer viewing. Computer lenses also have an anti-reflective coating to reduce the glare from computer screens or other electronic devices. Ask your optometrist if computer glasses would be right for you.

A Final Note on Protecting Your Eyesight

The final key to protecting yourself against computer related vision problems, headaches and back strain is easy. Everything in moderation. Put down your phone or tablet occasionally. Step away from your computer.  Get up, walk around and stretch. When working on your computer, make sure that your chair is comfortable and your computer is at proper eye level. Make sure that the room you are in has proper lighting and you aren’t straining to see what you are doing. But most of all, remember that your world doesn’t revolve around your electronics, as much as it seems to. And when in doubt, see your optometrist. Don’t take chances with your eyesight. You don’t want to have to buy a braille computer.