This just in—prolonged computer use causes eye strain.
Okay, you already knew that fact. Yet, there are ways to deal with eye strain such as taking breaks, adjusting the lighting and the monitor settings. There are also lenses that can help. They include progressive addition lenses (PALs) and lenses that filter out blue light.
Progressive Addition Lenses
These lenses have been available since the early 1900s and they have been shown to help those needing a solution for intermediate vision (20 inches or 50 cm to 40 inches or 100 cm). There are lenses that have a wider power in the intermediate range and they have helped those who do a lot of work on the computer.
In fact, there was a German study that compared computer-specific PALs lenses with general purpose lenses in 190 computer workers who had presbyopia. Subjects tested both types of lenses for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, 84 percent preferred the computer-specific PALs lenses. In addition, eye strain was seven times more frequent with the general-purpose lenses. So, computer-specific PALs can be an option for those who work on computers.
Blue Light Glasses
These glasses won’t help find bargains at Kmart. They are glasses that filter out blue light, which is emitted from computers, smartphones and tablet computers. While computer eye strain is a real thing and blue light affects the sleep/wake cycle, research shows that the effect to the eyes has to do with how the screens are being used, not to the light that is being emitted. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) does not recommend blue light glasses or any other kind of specialized eye wear for computer use.
Yet, some have seen a benefit to using blue glasses. One user of blue light glasses, Cindy Tolbert, can work more comfortably for longer periods of time with these glasses. “Usually my eyes poop out after 4 or 5 hours of computer work,” said Tolbert. “I can work longer with the (blue light) glasses.” Another user Michael Clarke, states, “I’m not an optometrist. I just know that my eyes don’t get as tired at the end of the day. My frequency of headaches has gone down. I’m able to focus on things easier on a screen.”
So, if patients are complaining about eye strain during computer use, share these tips with them from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO):
• Sit about 25 inches from the computer screen and position the screen so you are looking slightly downward.
• Reduce screen glare by using a matte screen filter
• Take breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
• Adjust the lighting and the contrast on the screen computer to reduce eye strain.
Of course, you could use a variation of the vaudeville doctor joke punch line and say, “If the computer is making your eyes hurt, then don’t use a computer.” The trouble is millennials won’t get the joke.