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Computers and Your Eyes

Computer Eye Strain The Short and Long Term Effects of Computers on Your Vision
Often people find themselves waiting in the office of an eye care provider after experiencing trouble seeing, pain in the eyes or constant tension headaches. If you or someone you know suffers from chronic tension headaches, the culprit may be your eyes, not your head. How does this happen? Many times it results from spending too much time at a computer or too much time trying to read something in an area that is not well lit.

Most often people find they have trouble seeing the fine letters on their computer screen, which affects their work… which leads to an appointment with the eye doctor. If you spend hours on hours in front of a computer, at some time or another you will probably wonder the effect your work has on your vision. For many people routine use of computers results in various symptoms including:

  • Eye Strain
  • Headaches
  • Blurry Vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Eye
  • Tension In Head, Neck and Shoulders
  • Excessive Tearing
  • Sharp Pain in Eyes
  • Double Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

While some of these symptoms may seem odd, they are all very common among computer users AND among people that try to work or read in areas that are not well lit. If for example you work in an office without windows, you may find you succumb to frequent headaches resulting from eyestrain and stress.

All of these symptoms can lead to frustration, increased irritation and an inability to complete work as efficiently as one might without proper eye care.

Fortunately you do not have to let computer eyestrain prevent you from spending hours online if that is what you want to do. Let's find out what you can do to protect your eyes from strain so you can work well and recreate well while online…

Computer Eyestrain in Children
It may be hard to believe but children are just as likely to develop eyestrain from frequent computer or television use as adults are. As more and more educational facilities incorporate computers in the classroom, and more children use computers to do their homework, the prevalence of visual disturbances in children is rising.

Computer-related eye strain is so common in children in fact it has its own name: Vision Syndrome or CVSC (computer vision syndrome in children). If your child spends more than one hour each day on the computer, the chances are high they may suffer from CVSC. What can you do to help?

Often children need to spend less time at a computer or in front of a television to reduce the odds they will suffer from computer eyestrain. To help improve the odds your child will avoid spending long hours in front of a computer, put a family computer in a central and highly visible location, and be sure to monitor your child's time at the computer. You can even set a timer so your child knows exactly when their time at the computer is up.

Because studies show more than 20 percent of children need corrective eyewear as early as the first grade, it is critical you take care to prevent computer eyestrain from affecting your child's vision. Remember some changes may become permanent if not addressed early on. Now that you know a bit more about children's eye strain an computers, let's learn more about the many ways you can prevent eyestrain and related visual disturbances whether a child or an adult.

Reducing Eye Symptoms at Work and Play
Fortunately there are many steps you can take to improve your eye health while using a computer. Wearing prescription lenses specifically designed for computer users easily relieves many symptoms including eyestrain.

There are many other tools that can help relieve eye strain and headaches that do not involve the use of prescription lenses. These include:

  • Anti-glare screens that can reduce eye strain.
  • Taking frequent breaks to help rest the eyes.
  • Participating in eye exercises to help strengthen your eyes and reduce blurry vision.
  • Taking a multi vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure your eyes get the nutrients they need.
  • Increasing the font size of your computer screen to reduce eye strain.
  • Using a larger monitor so you can see the print on your computer screen better. This is very helpful especially if you must read long documents or spend hours entering data or editing on a computer.

Many people working at computers have to consistently focus their vision near rather than far. These may contribute to problems including suppressed vision, increased tendency toward nearsightedness or reduced efficiency when reading online. It is important that computer users recognize that many factors can impact their eye health while using a computer, including lighting conditions and the length of time they work or play at a computer.

Eye strain can also develop from frequent gaming at a computer station. Many people don't realize the effects video games and other media have on their eye health.

Computer ergonomics is also an important factor to consider. Proper computer adjustments can help reduce eyestrain as well as back and neck strain. Here are a few quick tips to help you create a safe and comfortable computer workstation.

  • Top of monitor at or just below eye level
  • Monitor should be further than 20 inches from your face
  • Consider a larger monitor size
  • Align backrest to press comfortable against your back
  • Natural lighting is optimal
  • Stay away from bright LED lights

When To See Your Eye Care Professional
If you have any of the symptoms listed below, be sure to visit your eye care professional for a routine eye exam. They can help identify the source of your vision problems and recommend appropriate treatment measures. Most people find that a simple prescription for glasses or contacts helps relieve most symptoms of eye strain and headaches. Others may need reading glasses or a more comprehensive prescription that helps address focusing problems throughout the day.

Signs and Symptoms of Eye Problems

  • Headaches that come on during computer work or shortly thereafter.
  • Blurry vision while using a computer or an inability to focus well on the objects in the computer screen.
  • Frequent dry or irritated eyes.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Difficulty refocusing no distant objects after using a computer.
  • Difficulty seeing text or other materials clearly after using a computer.
  • Difficulty focusing when driving or doing other routine activities after heavy computer use.
  • Neck or shoulder pain that may indicate increased tension or straining while using the computer.
  • Pain in the arms and wrists when using a computer, which may suggest your computer station, needs an adjustment to serve you better.

Your eye care professional can recommend a prescription and workstation adjustments to help relieve your symptoms and improve your visual acuity in the short and long term. Your eye care professional may also take you through a list of eye exercises that can help relieve eye strain while at work and at play.

Simply taking time away from your computer to focus on distant objects around the room and close your eyes can help alleviate much of the eyestrain people feel on a daily basis.

If you use a computer regularly, you simply can't afford not to have your eye care professional review your vision! A small adjustment or two may mean the difference between daily strain and a relaxed day in or out of the office!

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