Life is a journey. I retired at the end of November 2020 from my position as a performance analyst for a data center. I was looking forward to that day so I could launch another career – that of a writer. I started jotting down a list of possible topics, short stories and novels. Yet the elephant in the room that really demanded my primary attention was CVS – Computer Vision Syndrome. The most noticeable effect of retiring was that for the next 30 days I discovered with profound relief that I was no longer fighting a battle. Gawking at a computer screen was no longer an integral part of my life. I did not abandon the computer or my smartphone, but I did notice that I no longer had to meddle with computer technology. It was an option, all day and every day. If I felt tired, I slept. The pain subsided significantly.
All that to say it was the main reason why it would take me 45 days to post my first article on the Internet. I had plenty to do during that time. It simply felt so wonderful to not begin each day subliminally thinking how I am going to manage eye pain today. It is with some understatement that an article on CVS stated:
An inability to satisfy these visual requirements could present significant lifestyle difficulties for patients.
And so it went on for the past 13 years.
My journey on this subject began in 2008, culminating in a pair of articles posted in 2018. In that article I described a new “syndrome” that was emerging in our world today. Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS, was a series of related symptoms being observed in people. When I first started this investigation, it was rather sparsely written about. Even to this day, I have to explain to most people what CVS means. But the good news is that CVS is recognized as a problem by the medical community, there is treatment and there is new technology addressing the issue.
My first step was to review my previous sources, something I regularly do to correct or update posted articles to ensure that all links are still relevant. What I discovered was that both WebMD and the American Optometric Association (AOA) had expanded on their information as recently as August 2019, providing some added graphics, and a complete list of treatment options.
Most interesting was the current traffic on CVS produced through search engines. Google has an added feature of producing “scholarly articles”, something that alluded me previously. It is through these articles that you gain significant impressions:
As regards excepted measures for diminishing the effects of CVS, nothing has changed since I first posted an article on the subject in 2018. Dry eyes and pain are the two most prevalent symptoms. As regards treatment, the most universally recommended action is to simply walk away from the computer. For people, like myself, who work on computers as a part of their career, taking frequent breaks was the best solution. While taking eye drops and pain killers is an option, you are simply chasing a symptom. Walking away from a computer whenever possible addresses the root of the problem.
The new element in this discussion is OLED – an emerging video technology that may replace the LCD displays we currently use. OLED stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diode.” Of all its innovations, the reported reduction of 70% in blue light emissions and a 30% reduction in “bright light” may significantly mitigate the effects of CVS.
As I wrap up this article, I must bring your attention to the most alarming observation.
So around 80% of blue light entering the eye will pass through a five-year-old’s lens compared to 20% for a 60-year-old adult. This could cause premature aging of the child’s retina.
While I am “old” and retired, it concerns me deeply that the people who will pay the heaviest price of computer technology are the children. While I began to experience symptoms in my 50’s, children today will experience CVS in their 20’s.
To conclude – walk away. Yes – literally take a walk. Look up from your smartphones, talk to people. Spend your spare time playing board games, reading books, taking walks, working on cars, or fishing.
• American Optometric Association
• “Computer Vision Syndrome: A Review of Ocular Causes and Potential Treatments,” Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, the Journal of the College of Optometrists, by Mark Rosenfield, February 2011
• “Five Reasons Why OLED Laptop Technology Is A Game-Changer,” ITWeb, by Marilyn de Villiers, January 6, 2021.
By Eric Niewoehner
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