Computers and Your Eyes

By: Patricia Woloch

According to the 2003 U.S. Census, 64% of adults and 86% of children use computers at school, at work, or at home. Computers can make life easier and save time, but they can be very hard on your eyes. About 88% of people who use computers everyday suffer from eyestrain. There are some things that you can do to make your computer easier on your eyes.

Try these tricks to protect your eyes when using your computer:

&bullAdjust your screen settings so that the light from your screen is about equal to the lighting in the room, not bright or dim, and turn up the contrast for a crisper image

&bullEvery fifteen to twenty minutes, get up and walk around, and shift your vision to something far away

&bullPosition the monitor about 10 to 15 degrees below eye level, with the top of the monitor tilted slightly away from you

&bullReduce the lighting in the room where you use your computer to about half of the normal level of lighting

&bullUse curtains and low wattage bulbs to reduce glare

&bullWear glasses with a special coating that prevents glare

&bullIf you wear prescription glasses make sure that they address intermediate vision. Most eye glasses are optimized for near and far vision. It is estimated that 70% to 75% of computer users could benefit from the use of computer glasses.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS)

Printed words are much easier for your eyes to focus on than the letters on your computer screen. Letters on the screen may have the illusion of being crisp and clear, but they are not. They are made of tiny pixels which cause your eyes to make constant micro-movements, shifting to the "resting point of accommodation" and then back to trying to focus on the words. This can quickly cause eye strain.

The brightness of the screen causes you to blink five times less often than normal when you are looking at the computer, leading to dry eye.

Sitting at the computer for long periods of time can cause the muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders to become stiff and tense and reduce the blood flow to your head and eyes.

Most prescriptions are not accurate for computer use, because they are not optimized for reading or viewing objects that are at the distance from our eyes as most computer screens. Your prescription need not be off enough for you to notice to cause eyestrain when using the computer. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, even if you feel that you can see the screen clearly, your performance may be decreased as much as 20%.

Signs that your computer is damaging your eyes

Symptoms of CVS include:

&bullEye strain

&bullDifficulty focusing

&bullBlurred vision

&bullDouble vision

&bullHeadaches

&bullNeck and shoulder pain

&bullFatigue

&bullDecreased productivity

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