March 01, 2010
3 min read
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New generation of desktop lenses reduces eyestrain, increases patient comfort

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Today’s computer and eyestrain reducing spectacle lenses go beyond traditional progressive-addition lenses to offer presbyopic patients a wider “working distance” area and anti-fatigue designs.

“In optometry, it’s critical that we understand the symptoms of [computer vision syndrome] because we are not only involved in the health of the eye, but also in the optical solutions,” Tommy L. Lim, OD, said in an interview with Primary Care Optometry News. “Do not assume patients need just one pair of glasses.”

“Before we had these types of lenses, I used to watch my mother throw her chin forward and her head back, then hunch her shoulders to try to read her piano music,” Greg Hicks, OD, told PCON. “I don’t think people realize what it does to their posture when they try to make their conventional eye wear work in an ergonomically demanding situation.”

Dr. Lim asks both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in their late 30s and early 40s about their computer use, if their eyes are tired at the end of the day or if they have to lift up their chin to see something on the computer.

“Some people are not even aware of these issues,” Dr. Lim told PCON. “When I ask these questions, I often find that they do have symptoms, but I have to pry it out of them.”

Computer spectacles are focused in the widest area of the lens for the individual’s computer or near-work distance, and some progressive models allow for a small amount of distance vision and extra addition for reading.

“The computer vision area is designed to be the widest area of the lens,” Pam Thomas, OD, said in an interview. “There’s also a tiny bit of distance at the top and a little bit of extra add down at the bottom for fine print. If wearers tilt their chin down just a bit, they can get up and walk around and see clearly without having to switch glasses.”

Another benefit is that these lenses, combined with antireflective coatings, are designed to reduce eyestrain caused by glare and the lack of well-defined edges of the characters on the screen, Karen Higashi-Reynolds, OD, told PCON.

“When you’re looking at the computer, especially one with an older monitor, the lack of contrast, as compared to dense black characters on a printed page, puts a lot of strain on the eyes, causing them to focus in and out,” Dr. Reynolds said. “These lenses allow the eyes to focus on the screen instead of drifting out to a point called the ‘resting point of accommodation,’ which lies behind the screen.”

There are many options to choose from when selecting a progressive computer spectacle lens. Dr. Hicks uses the Hoyalux Tact lens from Hoya (Lewisville, Texas) because of the flexibility he can offer patients with its two fitting positions.

“These lenses offer both me and my patient the flexibility to adjust the progressive design to create a lens that allows them to sit in their normal posture and look straight ahead,” he said. “We design the lens to have maximum power in the area of their greatest near-work demand, whether it’s for the computer, reading music or paperwork,” Dr. Hicks said.

Dr. Reynolds prefers the Prio computer lens by Essilor (Dallas) for her patients who need to be able to see both printed type and the computer quickly and clearly.

“Because hospitals are moving more towards computers, I have a lot of nurses who come in and say that they can’t see the computer and then they can’t see the chart,” she said. “Because the computer distance is different from the chart distance, those patients do well in the Prio lens.”

Although computer lenses are a step in the right direction, it is also crucial that clinicians coach their patients on proper ergonomics to ensure a comfortable environment.

“You can have the best computer lens in the world, but if you have a window behind the person that is casting glare on the screen, they’re still going to have eyestrain,” Dr. Thomas said.

For more information:

  • Tommy L. Lim, OD, can be reached at Berryessa Optometry Inc., 2534 Berryessa Road, San Jose, CA 95132; (408) 272-7200. Greg Hicks, OD, can be reached at Family Eye Care Centers, 2331 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, OH 44870; (419) 626-0272; e-mail: hicks@nwonline.net; www.berryessaoptometry.com. Dr. Hicks is a paid consultant for Hoya Vision Care. Pam Thomas, OD, can be reached at Keller Eye Care, 601 S. Main St., Keller, TX 76248; (817) 379-6200; e-mail: kec@kellereyecare.com. Karen Higashi-Reynolds, OD, can be reached at Mountain Shadows Vision Center, 4667 Centennial Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80919; (719) 590-1744; e-mail: msvcvision@pcibroadband.net. Dr. Lim, Dr. Thomas and Dr. Higashi-Reynolds have no direct financial interest in the products mentioned in this article, nor are they paid consultants for any companies mentioned.