Article Date: 12/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Are we giving this condition enough attention?
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

As optometrists, we've been aware of computer vision syndrome for a long time. Even before computers existed, we always associated the nature of a patient's vision problem and the correction of that problem with the visual task that she regularly performed.

By asking, "How do you use your eyes?" we know how to prescribe. We've always taken unusual posture, working distance and head position into account when prescribing multifocal glasses. And we know that one lens prescription may not meet all of a person's visual needs. We also know that small vision problems can produce big symptoms when a patient places great demand on her visual system.

Have we been slacking?

So I'm wondering if we've become complacent about the management of computer-related vision problems. Have we elevated the management of computer vision syndrome to the high level of visibility it deserves in our practices? Are we educating our patients about it one at a time?

Because computer use has become so commonplace in the work environment, and because prescribing for special tasks is a natural part of our work, I think optometrists may be missing a big opportunity to help patients. It's one of those specialty areas that we think we're covering -- but are we really?

Question your own practices

Ask yourselves these questions:

Just let your patients know

I know many patients will balk at the cost of a separate pair of computer glasses -- and that's normal and expected. It's not a rejection because I'm not advocating "selling" computer glasses, but rather simply informing appropriate patients that special lenses are available, and that they could provide more comfortable vision for long-term computer use. Those who want or need this type of lens will let you know.


Optometric Management, Issue: December 2002