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Computer Eyestrain

glasses american woman night computer irvine and laguna beach, caDigital eye strain is an increasingly common condition as digital devices become more ingrained into our daily lives. Digital eye strain, eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome (CVS) are conditions that result from extended exposure to digital screens such as computers, smartphones, tablets and televisions from a combination of factors including the blue light radiation emitted from the devices and the pixelated content that is difficult for our eyes to focus on.

Symptoms of computer or digital eyestrain tend to be noticed after someone has used a digital device for as little as 2 hours a day. Studies show that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty).

Digital eye strain also impacts your ability to focus and lessens productivity.  Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause.

Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

There are a number of options for reducing digital eye strain and your exposure to blue light which include workspace ergonomics, computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam, making sure you speak to your eye doctor about how often you use a computer and digital device. This will help your doctor to get the full picture of your eye and vision needs in order to determine which option is best for you. It was also help the doctor to identify any underlying issues that could be worsening your symptoms.

Alleviating Digital EyeStrain

Workspace Alterations

Proper Lighting and Screen Brightness: You want the screen to be as bright as the surrounding environment or the brightest object in the room (depending on what is most comfortable for you). Therefore interior lighting or sunlight from the outdoors should be dimmed or blocked.  Use fewer light fixtures or lower voltage light bulbs and close curtains or blinds when possible. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the levels that are most comfortable.

Reduce Glare: Glare is a significant cause of computer eyestrain so it is important to minimize it as much as possible.  Set up your computer where glare from windows won’t affect your screen or cover windows when this is not possible. Glare can also reflect from walls and shiny finishes on desks and other surfaces.  An anti-glare screen on your monitor or an anti-reflective (AR) or anti-glare coating applied to your eyewear can also help to minimize glare and the strain it causes to your vision.

Screen size and distance: You want to make sure you are using a high quality (such as a flat LCD) screen that has a relatively large display (look for a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches) and is located directly in front of your line of vision. Your viewing distance should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at about eye level or slightly below.

Eye Care

Keep Eyes Moist: When viewing a digital screen or monitor for an extended period of time, we tend to blink less frequently (about ⅓ as often as we should). Blinking however, is critical for keeping the eyes moist, which allows them to remain clear and comfortable and to avoid dry eyes, irritation, blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Focus on blinking by setting a timer for every 20 minutes and slowly closing and opening your eyes 10 times. Keep a bottle of artificial tears handy to use when your eyes are feeling dry.

Give Your Eyes a Break: Schedule and take frequent breaks from your screen. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take this time to stand up and stretch your back, neck and legs as well.

Computer Eyewear

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes. There are a number of options for computer eyewear, both if you need prescription eyewear and not. Speak to your eye doctor about what the best options are for you.
Learn more about computer glasses here.

It is important to know that both adults and children alike are susceptible to computer eye strain from computers and digital devices.  With the growing use of such devices in our everyday lives it is important to start educating ourselves and our children on how to combat the negative effects of these habits.

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Tears are essential for healthy and eyes and vision.

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome, or DES, is a condition caused by a lack of naturally producing tears. Tears are an essential aspect of eye health because they lubricate the surface of the eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable. When the body is unable to produce an adequate amount of tears, the eyes can begin to dry out, leading to itchy, red, and painful eyes.

At i2iOptometry, we are leaders in treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome patients in Laguna Beach, California . If you or a loved one suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Michael D. Cook & Dr. David N. Cler and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.

What Are Tears Made Of?

Tears are more than just fluid in the eye; they have a chemical makeup comprised of water, enzymes, proteins, metabolites, lipids, and mucins.

Tears are important because they keep your eyes well-lubricated and protect them from foreign bodies or dust particles, which can cause irritation. When an insufficient amount of tears is produced in the tear ducts, Dry Eye Syndrome occurs.

 

What are tear elements and why are they important?

Enzymes are proteins that cause a chemical reaction inside the body

Proteins are molecules containing amino acids that are found in tissues in the body

Metabolites are small molecules that are related to metabolism

Lipids are molecules with an oily substance which contain healthy fats

Mucins are glycoproteins that helps cells stick together

What Are Common Symptoms of Dry Eye?

The most frequent types of Dry Eye symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Burning sensation
  • Gritty feeling
  • Itchy eyes
  • Redness
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Watery eyes

It may seem ironic, but one symptom of DES is watery eyes. This occurs when the body attempts to self-soothe the dryness by producing excessive tears, a condition known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS). The tears lack a sufficient amount of water, so although these tears may provide temporary relief, the excessiveness of the tear production isn’t healthy.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome
Lady with red hair

Who Is at Risk for Developing Dry Eye Syndrome?

Like other diseases and eye conditions, there are some people who are more susceptible to developing DES. Age, gender, medical conditions, even the environment can contribute to sensitivity to dry eyes.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can make Dry Eye more prevalent. Patients with any of the following diseases may notice signs of DES symptoms:

  • Arthritis, an inflammation of the joints
  • Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, usually caused by skin conditions such as dandruff or rosacea
  • Diabetes, a condition causing high blood glucose levels
  • Glaucoma, a disease of the optic nerve, which causes vision loss
  • Hypertension, high blood pressure in the arteries
  • Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes damage to healthy tissue
  • Thyroid Disorder, when the tissues that surround the eyes become swollen or inflamed
  • Vitamin A Deficiency, when there is an insufficient amount of Vitamin A, which normally helps protect the cornea

Environmental Factors

People who live in areas with heavy winds or with dusty or dry air may find that their eyes often feel dry. Being around smoke or hair dryers can cause the same reaction. Being in direct aim of a heater or air conditioning unit can also dry out the eyes.

Gender

 

Women are more prone to DES because of hormonal changes due to pregnancy, birth control, and menopause. Women over age 50 have a 50% greater risk of developing Dry Eye than men of the same age. Additionally, women tend to visit their doctor more often than men and at earlier stages of discomfort, so diagnosing the condition in women is more common.

Age

According to the National Eye Institute, the risk of experiencing DES goes up with age. That’s because the natural tears of the eye decrease over time, which is a natural part of aging. As the patient’s tear production diminishes, signs of Dry Eye increase.

Treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome

Dr. Michael D. Cook & Dr. David N. Cler treat patients from Laguna Beach, California who have Dry Eye. Our staff has the experience and knowledge needed to help give you relief from DES symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Depending on your specific case, we may recommend artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to produce tears to moisten and make your eyes feel more comfortable. Prescription drops can help stimulate tear production and, in some cases, steroids can provide significant short-term relief.

For patients with more severe DES, the doctor may suggest the use of punctal plugs. These tiny devices are placed inside the tear duct to block tears from draining. As the natural moisture is prevented from leaking out, it remains in the eye and coats it properly, keeping it lubricated and comfortable.

Scleral lenses can provide effective relief, as well. These are custom-designed rigid contact lenses with a large diameter that cover the entire sclera (the white part of the eye) without touching the cornea. Scleral lenses contain a tiny pool of water, providing constant moisture to dry eyes.

Rain drops on a leaf
Medicine bottles on a shelf

Medications and Dry Eye

All medications include warnings of possible side effects which some patients may experience. There are certain categories of medications that are known to decrease natural tear production, such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Anxiety medications
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Decongestants

If you are taking any of these medications and feeling any signs of Dry Eye, speak with Dr. Michael D. Cook & Dr. David N. Cler about alternative medications or treatments to alleviate your symptoms

Short-Term Effects of Dry Eye Syndrome

Many symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome last for the short term, meaning, they can fade with proper treatment or sometimes, on their own. Blurry vision, itchy or red eyes, and stinging can be treated effectively and perhaps eventually disappear.

 

Long-Term Effects of Dry Eye Syndrome

Some symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome have long-term effects, which means that they can last for months or even years. These may include:

  • Corneal abrasions or ulcers
  • Long-term inflammation
  • Vision impairment

Corneal abrasions can become serious if left untreated. They often heal on their own, but in more severe cases, prescription creams or bandage contact lenses may be needed for more efficient treatment. In cases of vision impairment from Dry Eye Syndrome, we can help.

These long-term effects of Dry Eye can negatively impact your life. Sensitivity to light and difficulty driving are 2 primary examples of everyday tasks that can become restricted with severe Dry Eye Syndrome. This leads to a lower quality of life.

If you suffer from Dry Eye and are ready for a solution to your painful symptoms, contact our eye doctors and the staff at i2iOptometry. We are here to help you experience better vision today.

Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

The use of computers, tablets and other digital devices has become so commonplace in the daily lives of children that a report by The Vision Council in 2015 showed that close to 25% of children spend more than 3 hours a day using some sort of digital device. These numbers are only expected to grow. As these devices are becoming integrated into schools and becoming more common for use at a younger age, many experts and parents are wondering how the use of these devices can affect children’s eyes in the short and long term.

Computer Vision Syndrome (aka Digital Eye Strain)

Just like adults, children are susceptible to computer vision syndrome (CVS), also called digital eye strain, after extended use of computers or digital devices. Symptoms of CVS include eye fatigue and eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

pediatric eye care - Optometrist - Laguna Beach & Irvine, CA

Staring at a computer screen is a stress for the eyes, particularly for children whose eyes and visual system are less developed. This is because the computer-generated, pix

elated images which appear on the screen are not what our eyes are accustomed to and therefore can cause the eye to strain after extended viewing.  Some children find it uncomfortable to view screens for long periods because they simply don’t have the focusing power to spend extended amounts of time looking at these pixelated images.

Children don’t always have the self control to limit computer use or the awareness to know when they are experiencing eye fatigue or other symptoms of CVS. Because of this, they are more likely to overuse digital devices which can make symptoms worse.

Screen Use and Myopia

Myopia or nearsightedness is a growing concern as studies show the incidences of the condition are growing exponentially.  In the past it was thought that myopia was primarily genetic, however recent research indicates a correlation between environmental factors and the growing exposure to and use of digital devices, particularly in children.  As children increase their computer use and time spent on screen, the likelihood of developing myopia seems to also be increasing. According to a study done at the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry which researched the incidence of myopia in 253 children between 6 years old and 10 years old showed a link with the amount of time spent on a computer.

Consult Our Laguna Beach Eye Doctors About The Effects of Blue Light

Blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light is emitted from digital devices and is causing greater and greater concerns about long term exposure.  It is already known that blue light can affect sleep and concentration but studies are also indicating that it can cause long term retinal damage, particularly in kids whose young eye have more sensitivity to environmental influences.

How to Protect Your Children from Computer Vision Syndrome

With the increasing use of and dependence upon digital devices it is important to teach your children good habits to protect their eyes while they are young. Understanding the risks and dangers of prolonged screen time should be taught at an early age.  Here are some tips for safe computer and digital device use to reduce digital eye strain and prevent the negative effects it can have on your children’s eyes and vision.

  1. Limit Screen Time:  When possible limit screen time to one or two hours a day, particularly for little children who don’t require computers for school work.
  2. Optimize Your Children’s Work Station: Ensure that children are positioned properly and that lighting is appropriate so that they do not have to bend or stretch in unnatural ways to see the screen adequately. The monitor should be slightly below the child’s eye line and about 18 - 28 inches away.  The chair should also be adjusted so that the child’s arms comfortably rest on the desk and his or her feet touch the floor (when possible).
  3. Have Regular Eye Exams: Monitor your child’s eyesight, particularly an assessment of their near vision skills.
  4. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away.
  5. Get in the Habit of Stretching: At regular intervals stretch the back, arms, shoulders and neck to relieve tension and reduce strain or soreness.
  6. Consider Computer Glasses: Computer glasses are made to help the eyes focus more easily on the computer screen.  If your child already wears prescription eyewear, prescription computer glasses are available as well.
  7. Anti-glare: Anti-glare screens or coatings on eyeglasses can reduce glare and eye strain.
  8. Look for signs of eye or vision problems such as blurred vision or eye rubbing, redness or a stiff neck.  If you notice any lasting vision problems see your eye doctor for an examination.

Computer Glasses

3Digital devices have impacted our world in so many positive ways, allowing us to connect, work, play, and get information at the speed of light. In fact, many people have a hard time when they “disconnect.” But all of this good brings with it a measure of concern: Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of computers and digital devices. Adults aged 18 to 34 report feeling eye strain at a higher rate (45%) than their older counterparts. New research also suggests that overexposure to blue light, also referred to as high-energy visible or HEV light, may contribute to vision problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Implications are just now being studied, but the short-term impact of digital eye strain affects individuals on a daily basis. Eye care providers are noting a steady rise in the incidence of myopia as well, which research suggests could be correlated to the increase of screen time and near focusing.

computer glasses Nob HillSymptoms of Digital Eye Strain include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sore eyes
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain

In addition to these symptoms, emerging research shows that blue light from digital devices causes sleep disturbances by interfering with the REM cycle of sleep.

As people move from their computer to their tablet to their phone, more and more of these symptoms are being seen, and in younger and younger people. Computer glasses offer a solution to reduce the strain on your eyes and your exposure to blue light radiation.

How Computer Glasses Work

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so that your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes.

Finding the Right Pair

There are a number of companies that make computer glasses, some that are designed for device users without a prescription or that would wear the glasses with contact lenses. Other 183manufacturers provide options to incorporate vision prescriptions into the lens.

When shopping for computer glasses you want to make sure you find the right pair. The eyewear should sit nicely on your face and provide a comfortable tint. Here are some of the options available:

  • Single Vision Computer Glasses: Provide the optimum lens power and field of view for viewing your computer screen without straining or leaning in to reduce symptoms of CVS. These are ideal for when the computer is at a fixed working distance, and work well if the user needs to view multiple screens at the same working distance.
  • Office Lenses or Progressive Lenses: No-line multifocal eyewear that can be made to correct near, intermediate and some distance vision with a larger intermediate zone for computer vision if indicated. Perfect for those with presbyopia which is the gradual loss of focusing ability that occurs naturally with age. Office lenses work like progressive lenses but provide a wider field of view for intermediate (1-3 m) viewing distance and near working distance (about 40 cm).
  • Blue-Blocking Lenses: Definitely recommended for this electronic age, blue-blocking lenses block blue light emitted from computer screens that is associated with glare, eye strain and possible sleep disturbances.
  • Anti-glare and filtering coatings (treatments): Eliminate reflections from the surfaces of your lens to reduce eye strain and discomfort from glare. Some coatings can also block blue light emitted from computer screens.

While all of these are good options for protecting your eyes, the 20/20/20 rule still applies - after every 20 minutes of near tasks, look at something beyond 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds...it’s a good time to stretch the rest of the body too.

Eye exams are important to test your focusing ability, and to ensure that both eyes are working and focusing at the same place. Many people do not have the same prescription in each eye.

Children and Computer Glasses

Children are using digital devices more than ever and this trend will only continue as smartphones take over and tablet and computer-based learning increases. Their use extends well beyond the school day , as they use computers for homework and gaming and smartphones to text with their friends.

Computer glasses should be used for children  proactively before eye strain begins to keep their eyes healthy longer and prevent nearsightedness.

Worker Productivity and Computer Vision Syndrome

Since 43% of adults work at jobs that require prolonged use of a computer, tablet or other digital devices, computer vision syndrome (CVS) and blue light exposure are becoming increasingly serious threats to our vision, health and productivity.

Computer Vision Syndrome in the Workplace

computer eyeglasses Nob HillComputer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain, is an increasingly common condition felt by those that spend two or more hours daily in front of a screen. Symptoms can include blurred vision, eye strain and fatigue, headaches, dry, red, irritated eyes, neck and back pain and headaches. Typically the symptoms of CVS are not permanent, however they can have an impact on comfort, productivity and one’s ability to focus. In rare cases, CVS can even be debilitating.

Studies show that symptoms of computer vision syndrome have become the most common workplace complaint or injury among workers with 50-90% of computer users reporting symptoms to some degree. These symptoms have been shown to have an impact on worker productivity.

The Effects of CVS on Productivity

In a study which looked at the correlation between computer vision and workplace productivity performed at the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham correlations were found between proper vision correction and overall productivity as well as the time it takes for a worker to complete a task. Even minor and unnoticeable vision problems were shown to affect productivity by up to 20% and to cause an increase in mistakes.

Blue Light Exposure

Blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) radiation exposure is another effect of extended digital device use. Excessive blue light exposure has been linked to sleep cycle disturbance - which can have an overall negative impact on alertness and one’s ability to focus. Blue light may also cause long term damage to the retina. While studies are currently being done to determine the effects of blue light, it is clear that protecting your eyes from blue light is recommended for eye health.

Workspace Ergonomics and Computer Eyewear

From both the worker’s and the employer’s perspectives, an investment in a combination of workspace ergonomics and computer eyewear can benefit the workplace and overall productivity. Workers will be more productive and experience fewer visual and musculoskeletal symptoms that can cause discomfort and distraction. Employers will benefit from productivity gains and reduced worker’s compensation claims.

We speak with patients about Eye Nutrition on a daily basis, and share some tasty and nutritious recipes as well.