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Computer Eye Strain

Why Do Computers Cause Eye Strain?

It's hard to believe that seven or eight years ago many of you didn't know how to turn on a computer. Today it's a part of all of our lives -- from grandmothers surfing the net to children learning their ABCs. While computers can and do increase our productivity, they are also a source of eye strain. Chronic eye strain is the second most common complaint among computer users. Wonder why? The answer is simple: the eyes weren't designed to stare at flat (two-dimensional) screens or books for hours upon hours.

Computer use requires the eyes to maintain fixed focusing and eye alignment at 20 inches for long periods of time. The eyes were designed to constantly change fixation to look for danger or to find food. Focusing and eye teaming (convergence) constantly change while looking at real objects, which have texture and depth. Evolution and technology have changed that. Our eyes stay at a fixed distance when viewing books or computer screens which causes the eyes to become locked in this close range, increasing near-sightness or myopia. Now you know why so many people need glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. This constant fixation on a computer screen also causes blurred vision, headaches, eye strain, sleepiness and overall fatigue. Lastly, with sustained fixation the eyes do not blink enough, so they dry out. That's why they burn or feel gritty. If you are not blinking enough use a good quality artificial tear such as Refresh Tears, Genteal, or Hypotears.

Can I Decrease Computer Eye Strain?

What else can we do to prevent eye strain? First, we can develop better habits. Look away from the screen and take a deep breath every once in awhile -- get those eyes to relax. Then look near then far and back and forth as rapidly as possible for a couple of minutes every hour you are on the computer. Make sure you keep the image you are looking at clear. This pumping of the focusing and eye-aiming muscles develops flexibility. This will help some of you but not all of you. Some patients will need special computer glasses.

Can I use My Current Reading Glasses for Computer Use?

Glasses for reading and glasses for computer use should be different. Normal reading is at 16 inches and in a downward position, while computer viewing is at 20-26 inches with the screen located directly in front of you. Thus, normal bifocals may be too strong and/or not set high enough for computer viewing. The result: a stiff neck, or worse, a bad back. Ask Kris, our optician, about the new specialized computer lenses from Zeiss, first in the name of quality optics.

What About Exercises?

Lastly, some of you may need a course of exercises to get those eye muscles working properly. Sometimes the exercises can be simple and done at home while other times the exercises are more complex and need to be done in our office. Many of us with simple problems won't complete a home exercise program and need the diligence of a properly constructed individualized program. If you have computer eye strain that is not resolved with the simple tips above, make an appointment with Dr. Cooper, Carniglia or Colavito.

For more information, visit this outside web site on Computer Vision Syndrome

Does the Screen Make a Difference?

Sure does. The smaller the pixels the easier it is for the eyes to accurately focus. The newer flat screen monitors provide the best resolution and are easy on your eyes. Also, make the font bigger (12 point) it will be easier to view. With flat screen monitors there is no need for anti-glare screens.