Eye Strain IS Avoidable When Using the Computer
Houston (February 7, 2002) - While technology has made our lives easier in many ways, it has also caused unintended health problems. One example is the dramatic increase in the use of personal computers. This has caused the incidence of eye strain and other visual-related problems to increase as well. Computer users may experience many different symptoms, including tired or burning eyes, transient blurring, and even neck pain.
Reasons for Eye Strain
According to Leticia Albin, O.D., an optometrist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Main Campus, identifying the reasons for these problems may help ease the symptoms. “Studies have shown that people who spend extended periods of time on the computer do not blink as frequently while on the computer,” explains Dr. Albin. “Just the simple act of blinking more often can help relieve some of the burning or dry eye symptoms that computer users feel. Also, every 20 minutes or so, look away from the screen and focus your eyes on something farther away, such as down the hall or out the window,” advises Dr. Albin. “This may help not only with the blurring problem, but can also extend your comfort time on the computer.”
The positioning of the computer is also important. For example, bifocal users unconsciously tilt their heads back to see the screen more clearly, and thus often have neck and upper back pain. Dr. Albin advises, “Make sure the screen is set at your line of sight or lower, especially if you wear bifocals. Also, the screen might be a problem if it is set too close to your eyes. The closer your screen is, the harder your eyes have to work. Try to keep the screen at about arm’s length, and increase your font size while you are working, if possible.”
Other kinds of visual correction may be appropriate for people who work on the computer for many hours at a time. “Reading glasses help tremendously, especially if you are far-sighted or over 40 years of age,” says Dr. Albin. “If you are already wearing bifocals, you can have a special set of prescription glasses made for use while on the computer. The top part of the lens is set for the computer range, and the bottom of the lens (or bifocal) is set for near or reading. This gives you the ability to look at the computer, and down at your desk or papers, and see both clearly,” explains Dr. Albin. “We have found this to be quite effective for people who spend several hours at a time on a computer. And, since you need them to do your job, these glasses can be considered a business expense.”
For questions and concerns about eye strain, contact your optometrist or Dr. Albin is available at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Main Campus, located at 2727 West Holcombe, (713) 442-1000.