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Eye health discussion from Dr. Azizi and West Florida Eye Care
Nearpoint Stress Can Ruin Your Vision
Nearpoint Stress is commonplace and damaging
Step back a minute to your days in the school classroom: the teacher is lecturing, and you’ve got your head resting in the crook of your elbow, face inches from the paper where you’re taking notes–or doodling. The teacher calls your attention to the blackboard, and you look up. After a few seconds, everything comes into focus…
Those few seconds of blurry distance vision, before having things clear back up, is a symptom of a condition called nearpoint stress–a symptom that nearly everyone has experienced at some point. Nearpoint stress is most common in students, however it can appear at any age, and is a common symptom of prolonged, repeated “close work.”
The human eye is that of a predator–our vision is intended for distance, to locate and stalk prey. Extended close work, requiring us to focus our eyes on something very near, has come about recently on the evolutionary scale. To focus closely, the lens must be bent by the ciliary muscles to an extreme curvature. In layman’s terms, the muscles must work very hard, straining themselves, and without frequent recovery periods, they begin to fatigue. This can eventually lead to a spasm that can “stick,” causing myopia or astigmatism when the ciliary is unable to relax and allow the lens to revert to its normal curvature. Yes, too much close work can ruin your distance vision!
Taking notes isn’t the only common close work–in fact, computers have changed the nature of work for a huge portion of today’s workforce. If you are staring at your computer screen every day, you should take care to keep it at a safe distance from your eyes. Additionally, we’re all using our phones, tablets, video games, reading books on a Kindle–all likely constituting close work. Currently, most LCD and LED screens have other potential negative effects, as well.
There are other common symptoms for nearpoint stress. Headaches are very common, along with eyestrain, eyelid twitching, burning or watery eyes, and sometimes difficulty concentrating on close work.
There are some preventative measures you can take to help mitigate or avoid nearpoint stress.
First and foremost, position your near work at a “safe” distance, or the furthest possible. As a general guideline, your close work should be at a distance greater than arm’s length, if at all possible. Because the distance is greater, the lens will not require as much curvature to focus, and the work put forth by your ciliary muscles will be smaller and less taxing.
Second, take frequent eye breaks. A break for your ciliary muscles, in this case, is as simple as looking up from your close work for a few seconds every few minutes. Focus on something at distance by looking around the room. Alternately looking from a near object to a far object can help move the muscles through a stretch. Any near work should not be resumed until your distance vision is fully-focused again.
Last, consider wearing reading glasses as a preventative measure. The lenses can be low-powered enough that they don’t render already-good vision blurry, and they reduce the effort that your ciliary muscles must exert in order to focus appropriately.
If you’re worried about nearpoint stress and live in the Southwest Florida area, consider scheduling an appointment with us in Lehigh Acres or Ft. Myers.