More than 143 million Americans work on a computer each day, with 88% of them suffering from computer eyestrain, according to estimates. In addition, nearly 54 million children work at a computer each day either at home or in school. Prolonged computer use can stress your eyes and impact your vision development. If you or your child spend more than two hours each day in front of a computer screen, you are likely to experience some degree of computer vision syndrome. CVS includes: headaches, loss of focus, burning/tired eyes, double/blurred vision and neck and shoulder pains
CVS is caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on the screen than they do to printed characters. Our eyes have little problem focusing on most printed material, which is characterized by dense black characters with well-defined edges. Healthy eyes can easily maintain focus on the printed page. Characters on a computer screen however, don't have this contrast or well-defined edges. These characters (pixels) are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward their edges. This makes it very difficult for our eyes to maintain focus and remain fixed onto these images. Instead, our eyes drift out to a point called the "resting point of accommodation" or RPA. Our eyes involuntarily move to the RPA, and then strain to regain focus on the screen. This continuous flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates fatigue and the burning, tired-eyes feeling that is so common after long hours at the computer.
The solution is simple: see an eye care professional that specializes in computer vision care. In most cases, standard reading glasses or over-the-counter readers are not accurate enough, because viewing a computer is usually at a different distance (18"-28") than reading distance (16"-21"). Once an eye doctor accurately diagnoses your computer vision problem and determines your correct computer working distances, it's a simple matter to prescribe computer eyeglasses that will allow you to work comfortably and productively. To find an eye doctor who specializes in computer vision care, use Vision Council of America's online locator.
Studies show that computer eyewear can increase computer worker productivity significantly, with cost savings for employers who provide the eyewear. Glare screen filters may help somewhat, but they will not solve your computer vision problems because they only affect glare from the computer screen, not the visual problems related to the constant refocusing of your eyes when working at a computer.
Only when your eyes can focus clearly at the plane of proper distance on the computer screen can they experience relief from the fatiguing effects of CVS. An anti-reflective (AR) coating is also highly recommended on all computer eyeglasses. An AR coating prevents glare and reflections on the front and back of the lenses that would interfere with focusing on the screen.
Computer Eyeglasses will eliminate the constant refocusing effort that your eyes go through when viewing the screen. It has also been proven clinically that having the correct prescription in computer eyeglasses increases productivity and accuracy.
Almost any style of frame can be used for computer eyewear. More important are the lenses that your eye doctor chooses for your computer eyeglasses. Ninety percent of the time, multifocal lenses will be your best choice, as they are designed specifically for working at a computer. They allow you to see clearly at your correct computer screen distance and can give you some distance vision beyond the computer. Whether the lenses are multifocal or single vision, you and your eye doctor must determine the best lenses for your work environment.
If you have medical coverage but not vision, the exam portion of the cost may be covered by your medical carrier. If you have vision insurance, you may be entitled to an annual exam, which could be used to cover the computer exam and a portion of the cost of the computer eyewear. A few progressive companies are already providing exams and eyewear for their employees who work at computers.
Prescription eyeglasses can prevent further damage to your eyes. Depending on your prescription, an eye care professional will probably fit you in either single vision or multifocal lenses. The single vision lens is designed to optimize your vision at one distance only: near for reading or work at the computer; or far for distance (watching a movie or driving). Many eye care professionals are now fitting computer users in a multifocal lens that has a wide intermediate zone, which optimizes computer work. This lens also allows the wearer to read printed material while working at the computer and see a limited distance (10 to 13 feet).
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