Sustained computer work yields a common incidence of blurred vision and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). The viewing of computer-generated print and images on a screen or monitor for lengthy periods is harder on the eyes than viewing a similar amount of material on the printed pages of a book or magazine.
If you’re under age 40, then the blurred vision that you experience during computer usage may be because of the inability of your eyes to remain accurately focused on your screen for continuous periods of time. The blurred vision may also be caused by an inability to quickly and accurately change your viewing focus, such as when you shift your gaze from your monitor to your keyboard and back again. This problem, AKA a lag of accommodation, can cause eyestrain, fatigue, and headaches, which are common indicators of CVS.
If you’re over age 40, then the onset of presbyopia, which is a normal age-related loss of near vision focusing ability, can make the action of focusing on a computer screen or monitor even more problematic and further aggravates the risk of eyestrain, headaches, and eye fatigue.
So what steps can you take to increase the comfortability and functionality of your eyes during computer use? Have your optometrist prescribe customized computer eyeglasses.
Customized computer glasses can make all the difference. These eyeglasses are prescribed and designed specifically to diminish eyestrain and give you the most comfortable vision possible at your computer.
I already wear glasses. Do I really need computer glasses?
If you already wear prescription eyeglasses or reading glasses, then you may be inclined to dismiss the idea of wearing computer glasses. But eyeglasses that are prescribed for general purpose wearing are often not well suited for protracted computer work.
Why is this the case? Well, when you’re working at a computer, your eyes are generally 20 to 26 inches from your computer screen. This range of distance is known as the intermediate zone of vision, which is closer than driving (distance) vision, but farther away than close-work/reading (near) vision.
Most young people today wear eyeglasses to correct their far distance vision. Reading glasses are prescribed specifically to correct for near vision only. And bifocal lenses that are prescribed for those who are over the age of 40 with presbyopia will correct only near and far vision. None of these eyeglasses are optimized to accommodate the intermediate zone of vision that is most often used during computer work.
Even trifocal lenses and progressive lenses, which both include powers that correct for intermediate vision, have only a small portion of the lens dedicated to this area. That is not even nearly an adequately large enough area for comfortable, lengthy computer work.
Computer users who lack the appropriate eyewear may often end up with the aforementioned hallmark symptoms of CVS. Worse still, many people may try to offset their blurred vision by leaning forward, or by tipping their head to look through the bottom portion of their glasses. These postures are unnatural and will actually cause further problems instead of fixing the initial one, with the additional problems being headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and backaches.
Computer glasses reduce errors and increase productivity
Are computer glasses really worth the extra cost of an additional pair of glasses?
Yes, they are. Research has shown that, along with the increase in comfortability and decrease in the risk of the development of CVS, prescription computer glasses may mitigate the number of errors and the degree of the losses of productivity caused by vision problems during the course of computer work.
There was a study conducted by the staff at the University of Alabama School of Optometry, which found that even minor changes from the optimal lens power for computer work could cause a 38% decrease in accuracy for computer tasks and a 9% loss in worker productivity.
The researchers concluded that, due to the gains in productivity from workers wearing computer glasses, companies that pay for their employees to get computer eyewear could experience a benefit/cost ratio of $18 for every $1 spent.
Computer Lenses Designs
There is a wide assortment of different special purpose lens designs that are a great fit for computer glasses. Since these lenses are prescribed specifically for computer use, they are useless for driving or general-purpose wear.
The simplest design computer eyeglasses have single vision lenses with a modified lens power that is prescribed to give the optimal level of comfort in vision when looking at the computer screen or monitor. These lenses ease the amount of focusing necessary to keep images on the computer screen clear and also provide the largest field of view, which removes the need for any unnatural posture changes during computer work.
Older computer users have the luxury of a special purpose progressive lens for computer. Progressive lenses that have been specifically designed for the purpose of computer work have a larger intermediate zone of vision than do regular progressive lenses. This results in a wider and more comfortable view of the computer screen or monitor.
For those computer users who are presbyopic, they can choose to have lined trifocals, which have a larger intermediate zone of vision than do regular trifocals. Occupational bifocals are another option. The top part of the lens is designed for intermediate vision, which is what is used when one is looking at the screen, and the bottom portion for near vision, which is what one uses to read and do other close work.
Your optometrist can help you decide which lenses design will best accommodate your needs.
Lens Coatings and Treatments
Anti-reflective (AR) coatings can further improve the comfortability of your computer eyewear. This coating reduces the glare that is caused by constant reflections of overhead fluorescent lighting that wearers of uncoated eyeglass lenses are susceptible to.
Since many office environments are too bright to provide the optimal level of visual comfort, it is recommended that you put a light tint on the lenses. There are special tints that selectively block different wavelengths of indoor fluorescent lighting to provide better comfort.