Are Computer-Related Vision Problems More of a Concern than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

A new survey for the American Optometric Association (AOA) finds that a majority of Americans are concerned about vision problems caused by prolonged computer use. Such vision problems, says AOA, are more common than cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

According to the results, the public believes this eye condition, called computer vision syndrome (CVS), is a major vision problem, and 64 percent believe it will worsen in the future.

"The AOA and OSHA have recognized computer vision syndrome as a legitimate occupational problem associated with prolonged computer use in the workplace one that is far more common than carpal tunnel syndrome complaints," says James E. Sheedy, O.D., Ph.D., associate professor of optometry at Ohio State University. Approximately one in five people will suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, whereas seven of 10 will experience the symptoms of CVS.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corp., was designed to examine current consumer opinion on vision, computers and the workplace. The results show that most people believe that CVS symptoms which range from eye dryness, burning and irritation to blurred vision and eye strain resulting from spending three or more hours a day working on a computer, can have far-reaching impact.

According to Sheedy, these concerns are not unfounded. "Not surprisingly, parents do worry about the many consecutive hours that children spend staring at the computer screen, not blinking, and therefore, provoking eye irritation. Moreover, the residual effects from CVS may certainly impact activities such as driving, or watching television, even hours after a person has stopped looking at a computer screen."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 61 percent believe that work-associated eye strain and eye injuries are a significant problem today.
  • 75 percent believe CVS should be a legitimate, recognized problem like carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • 54 percent believe that employers are not aware of CVS and the risks employees face of developing the symptoms based on how much time they spend working on computers each day.

"Considering that nearly 175 million Americans (66 percent) use computers, the number of people who experience CVS symptoms is staggering," says Sheedy. "Fortunately, there are simple solutions available to consumers, from adjusting your computer screen, to computer glasses, to new over-the-counter lubricating eye drops that specifically treat this malady."

The CVS Information Center has launched www.cvseyeinfo.com to further educate the public about CVS.

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