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Computer & Office Eye Strain

Eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes  and neck and shoulder pain are common complaints of someone experiencing computer vision syndrome, according to the American Optometric Association.

If you optimize your work environment for comfort and still have problems, the solution may be another pair of glasses, the association says.  Studies have found that a majority of people who work on computers or hand-held devices experience some vision problems, the association said.

With 31 percent of those over 18 saying that, on average, they now spend at least five hours a day on a computer, tablet or smartphone, it appears that these symptoms will only become more common.

Many of those people need special-purpose glasses with lenses adjusted to bring the computer screen sharply into focus.  The problem with computer work is twofold, said Gary Heiting, an optometrist and associate editor of AllAboutVision.com, a consumer information site.

“During computer use,” Dr. Heiting said, “our eyes not only have to stay focused but also have to stay properly converged for long periods of time,” referring to the ability to move both eyes inward. The glasses people use for driving or the ones they use for reading books often have the wrong focal point for computer use or are ill-suited for computer use.  This convergence fatigue can cause eyestrain and blurred vision, just as focusing fatigue does, he added.

Computer vision syndrome originated with office work, but the popularity of mobile devices is now straining the eyes in a different way, according to Dr. James E. Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University in Oregon.

To avoid strain on mobile devices, Dr. Sheedy said, make the print size larger, read for shorter periods and employ the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of using the device, take a 20-second eye break and look at something beyond 20 feet. “This gives your eyes time to relax,” he said. “It’s almost like flexing your muscles.”

If that does not work well enough, consider the glasses. Computer glasses can take several forms, according to Dr. Heiting, depending on the patient’s age and visual needs. “Resist the temptation to buy over-the-counter reading glasses for use as computer glasses,” he said.

For many of our patients involved with extensive computer use, we prescribe a two-zone lens optimized for computer and desk work.  These computer specific lenses incorporate a larger-than-normal reading zone that is placed higher in the lens to eliminate head-bobbing.  The top part of the lens is designed for using a computer (intermediate vision) and the bottom part has a wide zone focused  for reading or using a cellphone.

Our patients can find specially designed progressive lenses that we recommend, including the Shamir Office lens.  Ask our doctors and staff for more details.  Your eyes will be much more comfortable, your vision will be much more efficient, and your shoulders and neck will be much more comfortable.