Convergence Insufficiency (CI) refers to the common vision condition in which your eyes are unable to work together while looking at nearby objects. When we focus on objects up close, our eyes are forced to move inward, allowing our brain to create images. This is called “convergence.” When your eyes are unable to correctly align, the brain is unable to merge these photos.
Think of your eyes as a camera: each eye takes individual pictures, and it is the brain’s job to combine those images into one cohesive picture. Although some people can effortlessly merge both images, many experience misalignment. When an individual is unable to automatically create images, the brain is forced to adapt and create a preconceived picture- resulting in CI symptoms.
Computer Vision Syndrome
If you are diagnosed with CI, you have probably dealt with its gruesome symptoms while doing daily activities like reading emails, completing homework, or browsing through social media.
Sore/tired eyes, blurry vision, or doubled vision are the most common symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome (aka digital vision disorder). Since the COVID-19 pandemic, humans have transitioned to a mostly virtual-based world. With school systems, businesses, and even stores going strictly online, the use of computers and screentime has increased astronomically!
Computer vision syndrome (CMV) currently affects over 50% of the US population. However, researchers have been able to predict increasing rates of both CMV and CI due to our constant need for technology and addiction to screen time.
How Does Screen Time Affect CI and Digital Eye Strain Syndrome?
Blue light is the light that is emitted off all your digital devices. It has a short wavelength, which means that it creates a ton of energy! A lot of research has been conducted to test whether prolonged blue light use has a long-term harmful effect on the eyes. 1
Research and Results
Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital conducted a study to find the correlation between prolonged screen time and the effects it has on children’s eyes. They surveyed students ages 10-17 enrolled in online schooling. Researchers found that the number of hours spent in front of a screen directly correlates to the likelihood of developing convergence insufficiency and Digital Eye Strain Syndrome. More than half of the students studied experienced visual symptoms of both Digital Eye Strain Syndrome and Convergence Insufficiency.2
In another study, researchers surveyed 500 college students throughout Ajman, United Arab Emirates. They were asked to report about their patterns of computer use and the associated visual symptoms. 251 students reported that they experience headaches, burning eye sensation, and dry/tired eyes. 3 With the rigorous coursework and intense studying, college students can be extremely susceptible to digital-based vision disorders.
So, Can Computer Use and Near Work Cause CI?
It absolutely can.
As we continue to depend on technology for our education, work, and social lives, rates of people seeking medical attention for eye strains increase.
Have you ever noticed that your symptoms are worse when looking at a digital screen?
This is because of the pixels embedded in your screen. These pixels force the eyes to work harder to merge images correctly, which results in these intense symptoms.
The more an individual is forced to read up close, the more they are forcing their eyes to converge. When an individual stares at objects up close for too long it can cause convergence insufficiency.