Since glaucoma can adversely impact a patient’s vision and that may add more eyestrain to computer use, new research published in Ophthalmology suggests enhanced graphics may improve visual comfort during screen use.

The team of French investigators enrolled 49 participants (16 with POAG who were about 63 years old, 17 age-matched subjects and 16 younger individuals who were roughly 23 years old). POAG patients underwent an eye exam prior to the study’s onset to measure visual loss and acuity and contrast sensitivity.

Additionally, individuals answered an IT experience questionnaire and participated in a preference task monitored by eye tracking, in addition to a feedback session. The experimental task was based on ecological computer scenes following three enhancement levels—low, medium and high—determined by gradual modulation of contrast, luminance and color. Participants were also asked to select the most readable and comfortable stimulus between four images displayed on the screen: the original computer scene and three enhanced versions.

The study’s analysis revealed three principal factors that accounted for 72% of the total data variance: a greater need for enhanced computer scenes in glaucoma patients, an equal preference for low and medium enhancement among the three groups and a significantly longer trend of oculomotor behavior in the patient group.

As expected, individuals who reported difficulty due to vision issues tended to have visual impairment, but this group also expressed a preference for the high graphic enhancement.

The researchers noted that contrast sensitivity was primarily responsible for key variations in the data. Specifically, reduced contrast sensitivity had a significant effect on a participant’s preference for enhanced computer scenes. Individuals with reduced contrast sensitivity also tended to have a slower computer exploration speed.

The subjective patient responses used in the study underline the importance of including IT questions in visual-related quality of life surveys, the investigators said.

Garric C, Rouldand JF, Lenoble Q. Glaucoma and computer use: do contrast and color enhancements improve visual comfort in patients? Ophthalmology. February 6, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].