2021 Update: BVD and Eye Fatigue

Dr. Russel Lazarus, April 19, 2021
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As many as 90% of people who use computers daily report eye fatigue symptoms.

Vision is our primary sense, but most people take their eyes for granted. As we rely more on digital devices throughout our lives, our eyes are starting to feel the fatigue.

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What is eye fatigue?

The technical term is asthenopia, but many may know it as eye fatigue or  eye strain. When caused by using a digital screen it’s called computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain (DES).

Eye fatigue happens when our eyes experience pain due to being overworked beyond their capacity.

Eye fatigue signs occurs when the muscles in the eye either become fatigued, fail to receive enough hydration and rest from harsh computer screen glare over long periods.

Over time, eyes tend to feel tired and ache, causing difficulties in maintaining attention and concentration.

For some people, their eyes are overworked to a point that they begin to lose concentration and experience disabling eye fatigue, due to glare, air pollutants and long exposure to harmful rays.

When this occurs, it is important to recognize the signs of eye fatigue and then also rest your eyes and take a break from screens or any other activity that requires your eyes to focus intensely.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you to evaluate your eyes for eye fatigue.

What causes eye fatigue?

Eye fatigue and tiredness 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.

A common causes of eyestrain is Binocular Visual Dysfunction (BVD).

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 are the best treatments for binocular vision problems?

Vision therapy and micro-prism lenses successfully treat BVD and CI.

1. Micro-prism Lenses

Prismatic (prism) lenses work to correct eye misalignment by manipulating incoming light before it enters the eyes so that when the images from the two eyes reach the brain, the brain can fuse them into a single image.

The prisms in the glasses ‘trick’ the brain into thinking the eyes are properly aligned, causing them to see just one object and preventing eye muscle strain that can cause headaches.

Micro-prisms are a very low amount, usually under 2 dioptres, however their impact can significantly reduce the headaches suffered by many people.

2. Vision Therapy 

Patients with CI or BVD are also often treated with a customized program of vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a program to improve the communication between the brain and the eyes, further supporting the visual system and alleviating the symptoms of BVD or CI.

Usually, patients find that their symptoms gradually subside or completely disappear when they wear prescribed prism lenses, which can be even further helped by completing a program of vision therapy.

While eye fatigue may be alleviated by making some lifestyle and behavioral changes, your eye doctor may discover that a functional vision problem is the underlying cause of eye fatigue.

Contact an eye doctor near you who can diagnose your eye fatigue and help improve your vision and enhance screen time experience.