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Eyecare for Computer Users

Bruce R. Thomas, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, American River College, 25aug2004.

  1. Computer vision syndrome.
  2. Eyeglasses for computer users.
  3. Strategies to reduce eyestrain.
  4. Additional information.


1. Computer vision syndrome.

(top, down) Most people who use computers, electronic games or televisions experience the eyestrain symptoms of computer vision syndrome. These electronic images strain the eyes because they are not as sharp and clear as printed images. Our eyes struggle in a futile attempt to bring these fuzzy images into sharper focus. The symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eye fatigue, dry eyes, burning eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, headaches, and pain in the shoulders, neck or back.

2. Eyeglasses for computer users.

(top, down) Consult your optometrist about whether corrective lenses will help you to see the computer screen more clearly. Even if you don't need corrective lenses for everyday living, it is possible that corrective lenses will greatly improve your vision comfort for computer use. Those who already have corrective lenses may find that their bifocal and trifocal lenses may be uncomfortable for long periods of computer use. Bifocals and trifocals force the user to hold her head at a fixed angle in order to view the screen through the small part of the lens that focuses at the correct distance. A pair of reading glasses may help the user to read the computer screen more comfortably. Reading glasses will enable the whole lens to be used to view the screen so the head and neck positions of the user are not restrained. Reading glasses are typically designed to focus at a distance of 18 inches, but the optimum position for a computer screen is 24 inches from the user. Measure the distance from your eyes to your computer monitor screen when you are sitting in your normal working position and discuss this with your optometrist. Tinted lenses and antiglare lens coatings may also be helpful for computer users. Special computer glasses (http://www.prio.com/) can be prescribed to further minimize eyestrain when doing computer work.

3. Strategies to reduce eyestrain.

(top, down) There are a variety of strategies for prevention of eyestrain when using computers.

  1. 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second vision break and focus on something at least 20 feet away from your computer screen.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Be sure to maintain good fluid intake to make the tears that lubricate and protect your eyes.
  3. Remember to intentionally blink your eyes more frequently. Computer users often get mesmerized by the computer screen and forget to blink their eyes as often as they should.
  4. Use eyedrops if necessary. If the above strategies are not enough to prevent dry, scratchy eyes, then you can use eyedrops to provide additional lubrication for your eyes (saline solution - NOT the kind that "gets the red out").
  5. Lighting and glare. Adjust the room lights and the position of the computer to minimize glare on the monitor. Addition of a glare filter in front of the monitor may also be helpful.

4. Additional information.

(top, down)

  1. Strategies for Prevention of Technostress
    (http://crc.losrios.edu/%7Etlc/new/technostress/technostress.htm)
  2. Computer Vision Syndrome - Univ Iowa Health Care
    (http://webeye.ophth.uiowa.edu/dept/SERVICE/ContactLens/Conditions/ComputerVisionSyndrome.htm)
  3. Computer Vision Syndrome - Ophthalmology - Virtual Hospital
    (http://www.vh.org/adult/patient/ophthalmology/computervisionsyndrome/)
  4. Eyes and Vision - Ergonomics - Apple Computer Inc
    (http://www.apple.com/about/ergonomics/vision.html)



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Copyright 2004, Bruce R. Thomas, all rights reserved.