It’s an all too common reality that many of us deal with on a daily basis: eye fatigue. As the world continually moves toward the digital realm, many people are spending more and more time in front of the computer screen, on monitors of all types; TVs, Computers, smart phones, and tablets. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 90% of people who spend three or more hours a day experience vision related discomfort. Individuals with perfect 20/20 vision can suffer the same symptoms as people using corrective lenses or those that have had corrective surgery. Regardless of what profession you are involved in, more than likely you are looking at a computer screen for at least three hours a day. Many others are stationed in front of a monitor for 8-10 hours a day (that’s not including the smart phone and tablets the use outside working hours). Even more so, control process industries, and similar industrial professions require their personnel to be in front of computer monitors and digital consoles for up to 12 hours per shift.
Many individuals are reporting vision-related discomfort and associated symptoms relating to CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome) and DEF (Digital Eye Fatigue). According to the American Optometric Association, CVS is associated with symptoms such as; eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain (For the full article on CVS visit: http://www.aoa.org/x5253.xml). These symptoms tend to intensify with increased computer use. DEF (is generally categorized with the same type of symptoms as CVS. Other sources identify the problem as the ocular muscular system constantly flexing to refocus on misperceived distances within the computer screen. The eye is tricked into thinking there is depth to an image or text, but in reality everything is contained on the same plane. This leads to chronic eye fatigue and eventually a decrease in productivity and vigilance.
Some of the physical, environmental factors that can contribute to the discomfort and symptoms of CVS and DEF, are poor lighting, glare on screens or work surfaces, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems of the user, and high levels of contrast. For typical office environments, a simple solution may be unscrewing a bulb or two in the large light fixture above your workstation to lower the light level and reduce glare or adjusting the settings on your monitor. For a more comprehensive list on steps to relief, check out: (http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm.) Other monitoring, process and control room specific rooms and buildings have intensive Architectural and engineering design involved to reduce user fatigue and increase vigilance. If a complete interior re-design and analysis of workspace is not optimal for your work conditions, one might look to over the counter glasses made specifically for computer use.
Some individuals have chosen to opt for digital performance eyewear. Gunnar Optiks is producing eyewear specifically made for continuous or extended use of computers. Their intentions with these optics is to relieve eyestrain, increase optical resolution and detail, and increase productivity over longer periods of time. Components of the lenses such as shape, and color are made to provide an optically pure viewing experience, while neutralizing blue light, making objects look sharper, and aid the natural focusing power of the human eye. All of which reduces eye strain and fatigue. According to Gunnar Optiks, the lenses are designed to “pre-focus” light coming into the eye, which takes some of the strain off the actual eye and keeps it from having to work that much harder than it would otherwise. If the eye doesn’t have to work as hard, then symptoms associated with CVS or DEF, are greatly reduced, and the user is less fatigued and more productive.
Personally, I’ve been using the Gunnars for approximately 2 years, heck maybe it’s been longer, I lost track, but I depend on them everyday. Being in Architectural design, much of my time during my nine hour work day is spent on the computer in front of two widescreen monitors. Working on programs ranging from typical word documents, excel spread sheets, to graphic intensive 3D modeling, Building Information Models and animations have taken a toll on my 20/15 vision. I recall at the end of the day my eyes feeling as though they had dirt in them. Dried out from staring at the monitors, my eyes blinking much less than they should. I felt as though my eyes were locked in a certain focus range until a few hours after being at home. Feeling better in the morning, my eyes would again be subject to the same situation a few hours later at work.
After a suggestion by a co-worker, some quick research, and quick sales pitch to our accommodating boss, a few days later we had the Gunnars in hand. As soon as we could open the boxes and started to wear them, the jokes subsided. It took a couple of hours adjusting to them, but most of that was getting used to wearing glasses again. The yellow tint of the lenses was a bit strange, but after the couple hours, I didn’t even notice. Very quickly I noticed a slight improvement in clarity and my eyes felt more relaxed. After a couple of days, I noticed my eyes feeling much more natural with less irritation and discomfort. I’m glad the task-specific eyewear was brought into our office as another tool of our trade.
There are many reviews out there, some being mixed on the Gunnar’s effectiveness. It would be my suggestion to take a chance and purchase a pair. The price of the glasses is quickly balanced by the relief you will likely experience.
- American Optometric Association – http://www.aoa.org/x4639.xml
- “Becoming a Squinter Nation” – by Melinda Beck – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704868604575433361436276340.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsThird
- “Computer Eye Strain: 10 Steps for Relief” – by Larry K. Wan, OD; updated by Gary Heitling, OD – http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm
- “Computer Glasses: Relieving Computer Eye Strain” – by Gina White; updates by Gary Heitling, OD; reviewed by James E. Sheedy, OD- http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/computer_glasses.htm
- Control Building & Control Room Architecture – Smith LaRock Architecture P.C. – http://www.slarc.com/
- Gunnar Optiks – http://www.gunnars.com/