2021 Update: BVD and Digital Eye Strain

Dr. Russel Lazarus, April 19, 2021
upddes

Over 50% of the population suffer with Digital Eye Strain (DES) impacting the lives of both children and adults.

The term eye strain describes a group of symptoms which occurs after extended use of the eyes, usually involving intense concentration or long periods of sustained attention.

If you have any eye discomfort caused by looking at something for a long time, you probably have eye strain, you may have experienced Digital Eye Strain,  if you have sitting in front of a computer screen for hours!

One of the most common causes of Digital Eye Strain is a condition known as Binocular Visual Dysfuction. This is caused bt a misalignment between the two eyes and is successfully treated with prism lenses.

Schedule an appointment with a vision therapy eye doctor near you so that they can start helping you relieve your eye strain.

Find an eye doctor near you

What is eye strain?

Eye strain can have devastating effects on both school and office performances and add significantly to stress and anxiety.

The term eye strain is frequently used to describe a group of symptoms that are related to the overuse of the eyes.

Eye strain occurs when your eyes get tired from being used intensely, such as working at a computer or driving a car for extended periods. 

In some cases, signs and symptoms of eye strain indicate an underlying eye condition that needs treatment. While you may not be able to change your job, or all the factors that are causing eye strain, you can reduce it.

The two most common causes of eyestrain are Binocular Visual Dysfunction and Convergence Insufficiency.

What is Binocular Visual Dysfunction?

The symptoms of ocular fatigue, tired eyes, blurring, headaches, and occasionally double vision. are brought on by intense use of the eyes for visual tasks.

Binocular Visual Dysfunction (BVD) is a misalignment between the two eyes, requiring micro-prism lenses.

For some it can occur while concentrating on a visually intense task such as reading fine print or using the computer for hours at a time. These tasks can unconsciously cause the muscles in the eyelids, face, temples, and jaw to clench, leading to discomfort or pain from overusing those muscles.

When eye strain stems from the use of a digital device, it is called Digital Eye Strain (DES) and often results from Binocular Visual Dysfunction (BVD).

Struggling to see in dim light or an extremely bright or glary environment can also bring on eye strain.

People are found to blink less when staring at a digital screen. This decreased blinking may lead to dry eye syndrome.

The inability to make both eyes work together, due to BVD, is a leading cause of eye strain.

What is convergence insufficiency?

Convergence insufficiency (CI) is caused by the difficulty of coordinating the two eyes to look at near vision for extended periods of time

Convergence of the eyes occurs when the two eyes need to focus on a close object, such as a computer, or book.

Convergence insufficiency means the eyes struggle to maintain focus on near tasks, affecting school and work performance and many other aspects of life.

As the eyes struggle to focus, they experience eye strain and fatigue.

How can CI be treated?

The most effective treatment for CI is vision therapy.

Vision therapy is an effective customized program that improves the vision skills to achieve clearer and more comfortable vision.

To decrease some of the symptoms of CI your eye doctor may also prescribe prismatic (prism) eyeglasses. These are not meant to treat or cure the condition, but rather relieve the symptoms. In many cases, prisms are prescribed in combination with vision therapy.

How to protect your eyes from DES?

1. Set limits on screen time

It is important to establish a time limit for daily digital device use — and follow through with it.

The more hours a person spends in front of a screen, the greater their risk of developing symptoms of digital eye strain.

2. 20-20-20 rule

This rule helps to relax the eye muscles and prevent eye strain.

Eye strain can be caused by long periods of intense reading or staring at a digital device for too long. While watching TV or using a digital device, every 20 minutes look at something in the distance (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

3. Blink frequently

People blink less frequently when staring at a screen, which can lead to dry, sore eyes, as well as eye strain.

Remember to blink often while sitting in front of a screen, so you can keep your eyes healthy and moist.

4. Keep a distance

Ideally the screen should be at least 18-24 inches away from your eyes.

It is also important to ensure that the computer screen is positioned just below eye level so that you don’t strain your neck while staring at the screen.

5. Upright posture

Online learning and working from home are becoming more and more popular, leaving everyone sitting in front of a digital screen for many hours during the day.

Without proper posture, this can lead to shoulder, back and neck pain— common symptoms of digital eye strain.

To prevent this, your desk and chair should be at a comfortable height so your feet can rest on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, a stool under the desk is a perfect solution.

If you are concerned about eye strain or fatigue, contact an eye doctor near you, as they can help diagnose and treat your eye strain symptoms.