Safety Eyewear for Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer work is more visually demanding than any other type of office work.
- By Brent Motchan
- Jun 01, 2017
As providers of safety eyewear, we are often asked about eye health problems of individuals related to computer or tablet usage. In today’s industry, computer use and use of digital devices is not limited to the office worker, but occurs in every shop floor, laboratory, and other production facility.
Manufacturing and industrial operations have computers or other digital screen devices in almost all aspects of their operations. Workers and employers now have to be concerned with the eye injuries traditionally associated with production and also with the effects of computers, which cause Computer Vision Syndrome.
Computer Vision Syndrome—"CVS" or Digital Eye Strain—occurs because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform them. CVS is a health issue recognized by the American Optometric Association that can cause eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision, as well as burning, itching, and dry eyes due to prolonged computer, tablet, cell phone, and other digital screen device usage.
Computer work is more visually demanding than any other type of office work. Images on a computer screen differ from the kind of image the eye is used to seeing with printed materials. Unlike printed text, each image or letter on the computer screen is made up of small pixels of light that are brightest in the center and become dimmer toward the edge of the pixel. In addition, when viewing a computer screen, unconsciously the eyes repeatedly attempt to rest by shifting the focus of the eyes to a point somewhere beyond the screen. As a result, the eyes must constantly refocus back to the computer screen. This constant switch between screen and relaxation point creates eyestrain and fatigue.
Other issues with digital screens take a toll, as well, including screen resolution and contrast, the refresh rate of the image and flicker, screen glare, and the distance and angle of the screen.
Eyewear's Role in Reducing the Problem
Can eyewear address any of the complaints of CVS? With modern optical lenses and lens treatments, the answer is "yes." Obviously, the problems associated with CVS are intensified when the individual's corrective lenses are out of date. The first line of attack should be to make sure that the individual has had an up-to-date eye examination.
After an individual renews his eyewear prescription, there are other ways to help reduce CVS. Specialty lenses are now developed to aid the computer user. These lenses provide the computer user greater convenience than other multifocal lenses. Computer lenses are made to filter out the harshest light, or "blue light." The more bright blue light that is filtered out, the less eyes have to strain to look at a display. These lenses are available to also give the eyes a comfortable focusing distance from 20 to 26 inches away from the face.
Other lenses may also be prescribed to give the user task-specific glasses designed for near and intermediate work. Another enhancement for the computer user is anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces ghost images and backside reflections while improving light transmission and providing greater visual comfort. Further options available are HD Digital lenses and lens tints to counteract the effects of intense fluorescent overhead lights.
There is help for CVS. In addition, for the industrial setting, there is now available computer eyewear that both satisfies ANSI Z87.1 certification and addresses the user’s need for prescription safety computer glasses.
Safety and increased comfort to the individual computer user means increased productivity. Not only is the computer or other digital device user benefited by greater comfort and less stress, but also his or her employer benefits by less downtime and greater productivity.
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.