Digital eye strain (DES; computer vision syndrome) is a common cause of symptoms when viewing digital devices. Low-powered convex lenses (adds) have been recommended for the condition and “accommodative support” designs developed on this premise. The present research reports the extent to which dry eye is present in this population and the effect of convex lenses on symptoms and visual performance.
The CVS-Q instrument was used to select pre-presbyopic adults with the symptoms of DES. Participants received a full eye examination including an assessment of dry eye with a modified SANDE questionnaire and using DEWS I criteria. The immediate effect of low-powered convex lenses (low adds: +0.50D, +0.75D, +1.25D) was investigated using subjective preference and a double-masked comparison with plano lenses with the Wilkins Rate of Reading Test (WRRT). Throughout this testing, participants wore their full distance refractive correction, based on non-cycloplegic retinoscopy and subjective refraction.
The signs and symptoms of dry eye were frequently present. Most participants reported a subjective preference for low adds, with +0.75D the most commonly preferred lens. Low adds (+0.50D and +0.75D; but not +1.25D) were associated with significantly improved performance at the WRRT. One quarter of participants read more than 10% faster with these additional convex lenses.
The study population was aged 20-40y and mostly worked on desktop computers. It is possible that +1.25D add may be more advantageous for people who are older or work more at closer viewing distances. Many symptomatic users of digital devices report a preference for low adds and use of these lenses is often associated with an improvement in reading performance.

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