Computer Glasses Ease Eye Strain

Getting headaches, blurry vision and tired eyes after a day of working on a computer? There’s an easy answer: Computer glasses!

The strain on your eyes from working on a computer is a real condition, and it even has a name: computer vision syndrome (CVS). Experts say that looking at computers simply requires your eyes to work in ways that other activities don’t.

Wait a minute, you say. I already wear glasses. And I still get blurry, tired eyes.

There are reasons for that. Ergonomics experts – the folks who measure how your body performs tasks – note that most computer screens sit 20 to 26 inches from your eyes. Your eye doctor calls this range the intermediate zone of vision – closer than distance vision (like when you drive), but farther away than reading (your “near” vision).

Without computer glasses, people often lean forward or backward to compensate for the visual range. So you get to the end of your day not only with the symptoms of CVS, but you get sore shoulders, a backache or a sore neck as well!

Most people under age 40 who wear glasses get them to correct their distance vision. Those of us over age 40 often get eyeglasses to correct the onset of a condition known as presbyopia – the loss of focusing ability that’s normal as we age.

The problem is, eyeglasses made to correct either of these conditions don’t address what’s happening in the intermediate zone of vision – that space between you and your computer screen! Even bifocals, trifocals and progressive lenses aren’t made for computer-range vision.

Recent research has supported the use of computer glasses. The University of Alabama School of Optometry studied the vision of computer users ages 19 to 30. Study participants were chosen randomly to wear either computer glasses or non-corrective eyeglasses. The researchers found that even when CVS symptoms weren’t reported, workers clearly showed differences in their productivity and accuracy.

So you can just pick up a $20 pair of computer glasses at the local office supply store, right? Well, maybe. The advantage to buying off the rack is clearly price, but if you have other vision problems, those single-lens glasses might not be the best for you. Experts say the trick to getting that $20 off-the-rack pair is to test them by reading something that’s the same distance from your eyes as the computer screen — 20 to 26 inches.

Glasses from eye doctors come in what’s known as “multifocal” styles. These can be bifocals, trifocals or occupational progressive lenses. The advantage to these more expensive styles is that you’ll be able to see clearly whether you’re looking at your computer, reading notes on your desk or winking at that cute co-worker across the cubicle from you. The drawbacks, of course, are that these styles require a visit to your eye doctor and usually cost around $300 or more.

Either way, be sure to check out your new glasses by working on your computer. If the blurries don’t go away, get another pair!

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