As more and more of us are spending the majority of our day looking at electronic devices it’s important to think about how this affects our vision and why it may be a good idea to invest in a designated pair of “computer” or “office” glasses. This is especially relevant for progressive lens wearers; progressive lenses are designed to be an all around lifestyle lens, providing correction for distance, mid-range (computer, phone, or tablet) and reading, but they are NOT designed to be task specific and are not intended to be worn for extended periods of computer work or reading. Computer/office progressives are designed specifically for mid-range and reading correction and offer a wider field of vision at these distances than traditional progressive lenses. Below is an excerpt from a New York Times article discussing the need for glasses with task specific lenses, and tips on how to keep your eyes as comfortable as possible when doing extended periods of work at a computer or on another type of electronic device.
Eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain are common complaints of someone experiencing computer vision syndrome, according to the American Optometric Association.
If you optimize your work environment for comfort and still have problems, the solution may be another pair of glasses, the association says. Normally, I’d be skeptical of a trade association suggesting that I buy more of their wares. But studies have found that a majority of people who work on computers or hand-held devices experience some vision problems, the association said.
With 31 percent of those over 18 saying that, on average, they now spend at least five hours a day on a computer, tablet or smartphone, it appears that these symptoms will only become more common.
Many of those people need special-purpose glasses with lenses adjusted to bring the computer screen sharply into focus. The problem with computer work is twofold, said Gary Heiting, an optometrist and associate editor of AllAboutVision.com, a consumer information site.
“During computer use,” Dr. Heiting said, “our eyes not only have to stay focused but also have to stay properly converged for long periods of time,” referring to the ability to move both eyes inward. The glasses people use for driving or the ones they use for reading books often have the wrong focal point for computer use or are ill-suited for computer use.
This convergence fatigue can cause eyestrain and blurred vision, just as focusing fatigue does, he added. What is more, computer workers blink much less frequently than they would during a face-to-face conversation, and that leads to dry eyes at work.
Computer vision syndrome originated with office work, but the popularity of mobile devices is now straining the eyes in a different way, according to Dr. James E. Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University in Oregon.
To avoid strain on mobile devices, Dr. Sheedy said, make the print size larger, read for shorter periods and employ the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of using the device, take a 20-second eye break and look at something beyond 20 feet. “This gives your eyes time to relax,” he said. “It’s almost like flexing your muscles.”
If that does not work well enough, consider the glasses. Computer glasses can take several forms, according to Dr. Heiting, depending on the patient’s age and visual needs. “Resist the temptation to buy over-the-counter reading glasses for use as computer glasses,” he said.
For adults under 40 who have not yet experienced the normal age-related loss of near-focusing ability, called presbyopia single-vision lenses are typically used for computer glasses, Dr. Heiting said. For people with presbyopia, doctors often prescribe single-vision, bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses (without lines), depending on the wearer’s need, he added.
Dr. Heiting prefers single-vision eyeglasses specifically prescribed for computer and desk work. “This is what I wear myself with great success,” he said. Most computer glasses will cause blurred or limited distance vision and should not be worn for driving or other tasks that require clear distance vision, he added.
But some people may prefer bifocals customized for computer and desk work. Lens adjustments might include a larger-than-normal reading zone that is placed higher in the lens to eliminate head-bobbing. For people with more advanced presbyopia, special-purpose bifocals may be a good option. The top part of the lens is for using a computer (intermediate vision) and the bottom part has added magnification for reading or using a cellphone.
Trifocals for computer work typically have a larger-than-normal intermediate zone placed higher in the lens for more comfortable viewing of the computer screen, but they still contain a small zone in the top of the lens for distance viewing.
People who do not like the line on their lenses calling attention to their need for bifocals (and their age) may find relief with progressive lenses. There are two types of progressive computer lenses: those prescribed for computer use for older adults who are presbyopic and those prescribed for younger adults who are not.
Young adults are sometimes prescribed progressive lenses with a limited amount of added magnification for intermediate and near vision to reduce the amount of focusing the eye has to do to see a computer or smartphone clearly for long periods of time.
Presbyopic computer users can find specially designed progressive lenses from Carl Zeiss Vision, including the Zeiss Business and Gradual RD lines, the Shamir Office lens from Shamir (which also sells a fatigue-relief lens) and the Seiko PCWide from Seiko Optical.”