Strategies for Choosing Computer Lenses

Headaches, blurry vision and eyestrain are hallmark symptoms of Digital Vision Disorder. According to a 2011 survey by Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 73% of eyeglass wearers spend at least four hours in front of a computer, which makes computer lenses considerably important. Yet, few people have them.

I guess that’s why 63% of people are unhappy with their lenses in the workplace (Leibniz).

If you are contemplating computer eyeglasses (for work only and not for driving), the following can clarify options for you.

Single Vision Lenses

If you wear glasses occasionally for distance or for reading, you are an excellent candidate for single vision computer lenses.  Single vision computer lens give the largest area of uninterrupted clarity than any other computer lens, which makes them appealing for people who don’t want or don't need multi-focal lenses.  They are also the most cost-effective option.

Be sure to discuss your interest in computer lenses with your Optometrist. Chances are, the prescription you wear for distance or reading is too strong for the computer and can cause blurry vision, tired eyes, and headaches among other ailments.  The sooner you acknowledge these symptoms, the sooner you can seek help from computer lenses.

Anti-Fatigue Lenses

An anti-fatigue lens is a single vision prescription lens with a small amount of plus power added toward the bottom of the lens.  This lens type was originally developed for early stage presbyopes who wear their glasses full-time but have been prescribed a very small reading prescription in the range of +0.50 to +0.75 diopters.

We have since learned that anti-fatigue lenses can be adapted into computer + reading lenses for early and mid-stage presbyopes.  Their chief advantage is the massive space allocated to computer distance and just enough reading room at the bottom when you need it.  Furthermore, anti-fatigue lenses require no period of adaptation.

Computer/ Occupational Progressive Lenses

Typically, when people say “computer lenses” they are referring to no-line multifocals that correct for near, intermediate, and in some cases, far distance.  Conventional computer progressive lenses have a section for computer distance at the top that gradually increases magnification into a narrow region at the bottom for up-close.  Compared to conventional progressive lenses, computer lenses have a larger area for intermediate distance, which is why many progressive wearers will migrate toward computer lenses for their second pair option.  As with all progressive designs, your central vision will be the most optically crisp while the periphery is comparatively blurry.

If you want lenses that you won't have to remove frequently during the day, we recommend you seek newer lens designs which also have an area at the top to see clearly in the distance. Some manufacturers give a few options: seeing about 7 ft in front of you (for cubicle wear), or being able to extend your vision as far as 20 ft (for presentation screens in a typical meeting room).

Lined-Bifocal Lenses

Lined bifocals are two sets of single vision lenses placed vertically into one lens and separated by a bevel (line).  For computer users, we simply make the top portion into a computer prescription and the shorter bottom portion is for reading and/or close-up work tasks.

Lined multifocals for computer usage are recommended for people who cannot adapt to progressive lens designs but yet have more than 0.75 diopters difference between their computer prescription and reading prescription.  They are also well suited to the individual who wants the widest field of view in a multi-focal lens so we sometimes recommend these for people who work on more than one computer screen.  Lined bifocals are also better priced than progressive computer lenses.

To get the most from your computer lens, you need to do some preparation prior to your eye examination:

  1. Measure the distance from your computer screen to your eye while seated comfortably at your desk. Prior to that, you should ensure that your computer is ergonomically positioned.
  2. Think about how you would be interacting with your lenses. Do you read or transcribe material? What distance away from your eyes is this material? How small is the font? How important is your distance vision throughout the day?
  3. What is your history with multi-focal lenses and how willing are you to try them out?
  4. Ask the Optometrist to test your vision at each of these distances—it’s included in the cost of an eye exam.

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