Technologies are great and it is everywhere. During the average day, we are connected to multiple digital devices and screens, such as cell phones, tablets, computers and TV screens. In fact, over a third of adults spend more than a half of their day using these technologies (Stetson, 2017). However, good things can lead to bad things. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) comes from the constant exposure to screens (Akinbinu & Mashalla, 2014). Extensive viewing of a computer screen can lead to eye fatigue, discomfort, blurred vision and headaches, dry eyes and other symptoms of eye strains. These symptoms may be caused by a combination of factors such as poor lighting, glare, improper workstation set up or vision problems the person was not aware of (Kozeis, 2009).
Prolonged activities without a break can cause problems and eye irritation. Eye irritation may occur when the eyes are concentrating and staring at a screen. In turn, blinking is reduced and there is a poor distribution of tears in the eye. Adding on to this, computers are usually located higher in the field of view and as a result of this, the upper eyelids will become retracted to a greater extent. The eye will then experience more than the normal amount of tear evaporation and resulting in dryness and irritation (Kozeis, 2009).
The blue light transmitted by LED devices can lead to damaging the retina and can contribute to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is because the blue light from the screen can reach deeper into the eye, more specifically the macular pigment than UV light. The damage will depend on the wavelength of light, power level and exposure time
(Optometry Times, 2014).
Protecting the eye:
- Individuals should have annual eye exams – there are computer-specific lenses with anti-reflective coating that will tailor to the individuals’ refractive prescription and needs
- Decreasing the brightness of the screen is beneficial as well as putting an anti-glare screen protector on the device
- The monitor should be just inside arm’s length
- The monitor should be slightly lower, approximately 15-20 degrees below eye level
- Make use of the accessibility features such as increasing the font size, zoom features, different fonts or background colours
Children can experience many of the same symptoms as by adults. However, depending on how the children use computers may make them more susceptible than adults in developing the problems. According to a survey conducted by the American Optometric Association’s (AOA), 41 percent of parents say their kids spend three or more hours per day using technological devices, and 66 percent of the kids have their own smartphone or tablet. Children’s eyes are still changing between the ages of 5 and 13 years old. The distance between the lens and the retina is still changing and when the distance between the two lengthens, there is an increase in nearsightedness. Preliminary studies are showing that exposure to natural sunlight will help play a role in reducing the likelihood of nearsightedness (American Optometric Association, 2015). It is estimated that 1 in 4 students have visual impairment problems and 20 percent of middle and high school students have difficulties seeing the board at school (Optometry Times, 2014).
Kozeis (2009) suggested five points to consider for children using a computer:
- Regular eye exam – makes sure the child can see clearly and comfortably. Children may not be aware that they are experiencing eye problems and may think it is normal like everyone else.
- Reduce the amount of time the children can be on the computer – take a ten-minute break for every hour work
- Check the position of the computer – since most computer stations are arranged for adult use, a child often has to look up further than an adult. This can lead to problems with binocular vision since the most efficient viewing angle is slightly downward about 15 degrees. Also, children may have difficulty reaching the keyboard or placing their feet on the floor. This can cause arm, neck or back discomfort,
- Check the lighting for glare on the computer screen – windows or other light sources can cause glare and can cause problems of the eye adjusting to different levels of light.
- Reduce the amount of light in the room
Every 20 minutes, take a 20 seconds break and look at something at least 20 feet away.
Akinbinu, T., & Mashalla, Y. (2014). Impact of computer technology on health: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Medical Practice and Review, 5(3), 20-30.
American Optometric Association . (2015, July 28). The 21st century child: Increased technology use may lead to future eye health and vision issues. Retrieved from American Optometric Association : https://www.aoa.org/newsroom/the-21st-century-child-increased-technology-use-may-lead-to-future-eye-health-and-vision-issues
Chou, B. (2018, February 22). Deconstructing the 20-20-20 rule for digital eye strain. Retrieved from Optometry Times: http://www.optometrytimes.com/editors-choice-opt/deconstructing-20-20-20-rule-digital-eye-strain
Kozeis, N. (2009). Impact of computer use on children's vision. Hippokratia, 13(4), 230-231.
Optometry Times. (2014, August 18). How digital devices are affecting vision. Retrieved from Optometry Times: http://www.optometrytimes.com/modern-medicine-cases/how-digital-devices-are-affecting-vision
Stetson, S. (2017, September 25). How technology affects your eyes. Retrieved from Diamond Vision: https://diamondvision.com/how-technology-affects-your-eyes/