Computers have been a wonderful addition to our lives. They make it possible for us to do word processing and data management as well as increase our ability to communicate with others with just a few key strokes. They save us a tremendous amount of time when performing many different tasks. All of these favorable aspects of computer usage come with some undesirable consequences that eye doctors are able to successfully manage.
It is very common for our patients that are using computers during their daily lives to complain of various vision issues that can be traced back to the usage of the computer. Here are some examples of problems that patients often confront when using computers. This group of symptoms is often referred to as "Computer Vision Syndrome":
1. Dry Eyes: One of the things that occurs when using the computer is that our blink rate drops considerably. This is due to our effort to concentrate when watching the screen. Some reports show that our blink rate can drop by as much as two thirds. The effect of this lack of blinking is that our eyes become very dry by the end of the day. Patients often mention that their vision becomes blurry and that their eyes burn or feel warm or hot. There are a variety of solutions to dry eyes that can be prescribed by an eye doctor that can help patients with dry eye problems.
2. Difficulty focusing: There are various reasons for difficulties in focusing when using the computer. Sometimes it is an issue of the normal aging changes that occur in our eyes. Our ability to focus at a fixed distance (arm's length for example) for an extended period of time can tax our focusing abilities. This can occur to a person at any age, but it becomes more of an issue as we age and our eyes can no longer easily change their focus at will. Some patients, regardless of age, can have difficulty focusing at a fixed distance due to internal eye muscle issues. Luckily, there are certain exercises that can be prescribed by an eye doctor that can significantly help patients that are suffering from these symptoms.
3. Eye muscle problems: There are eye muscles that help the eyes to turn in various directions as well as internal eye muscles that help with focusing. Sometimes, the external eye muscles are to blame for computer vision problems. When we look at a computer screen at arm's length we not only have to focus on the letters we are seeing but we have to point our eyes at the screen. This requires something called convergence. We converge our eyes using our external eye muscles and have to hold this position for hours at a time. Some patients have a weakness in their eye muscles and can have significant difficulty performing this task. Eye doctors can diagnose this problem and prescribe special eye muscle exercises to strenghten the external eye muscles to make it easier for patients to point their eyes at the computer screen at arm's length. The muscles that are involved are known as "skeletal muscles" and are of the same origin as other major muscle groups in the body such as biceps and triceps. It is possible to strenghten them via special exercises in a manner similar to going to the gym and building up these other well known muscle groups. With stronger external eye muscles it is much easier to perform the various computer tasks that we encounter in our daily lives.
If you or any of your family or friends are having problems with your computer usage as described above, please contact one of our doctors at Village Eyes Optometry for an evaluation of your computer vision problems. We are here to help.