Sunday, May 13, 2007

Computer Users: Learn to Baby Your Eyes - Eye Disorders including cataracts, Lasik eye surgery, blindness, glaucoma and eye allergy

Advice for avoiding eye strain at the computer ...

"There are few professions left that don't use computers in some way, just as there are few households that don't consider the family computer an essential appliance.

But all those hours online can take a toll on your eyes, experts warn.

"An increasing number of people are on the computer huge numbers of hours during the day," said Dr. Kerry Beebe, an optometrist in Brainerd, Minn., and spokesman for the American Optometric Association (AOA). "It does seem that particular visual demand can be tough to handle if there's anything less than perfect going on with your visual system."

Studies have shown that eyestrain and other vision problems can occur in as many as nine out of 10 people using video display terminals at work, according to the AOA.

The most common symptoms are eyestrain, blurred vision, double vision, excessive tears, dry eyes and excessive blinking or squinting. Visual problems also can result in physical problems such as headaches and neck or shoulder pain.

"Some people will have all of those and some just a few," Beebe said. "But anytime anyone comes in with those symptoms, we automatically ask, 'What are you doing much of the day?' They often spend many hours on a computer."

The radiation put out by a computer screen has nothing to do with these symptoms, although that's a common myth, said Dr. Jeffrey Weaver, director of the AOA's clinical care group.

"People are often asking about ultraviolet radiation, but any UV radiation from a computer screen is minimal," Weaver said. "If no one's getting a tan from using their computer, then it's not a matter for concern."

But if you're having eye trouble during or after computer use, you should have your eyes examined, Beebe said.

"Many times people will have a focusing problem or a refractive error where simply wearing glasses while using the computer will take away those symptoms," he said.

You should also take frequent short breaks, every half hour or so, Beebe and Weaver said. During those breaks, which can last just a minute or two, you should fix your eyes on a distant object to help refresh your vision.

"Just looking across the room or out a window can help a lot in keeping your focus relaxed," Beebe said.

The brightness of the monitor should be adjusted to an intensity comfortable to the eyes, according to the AOA. That means not too bright or too dim.

Next, you should adjust the contrast between the characters on the monitor and the background so the letters are easily read.

Finally, minimize reflected glare on the monitor by using window shades or curtains and dimmer switches on lights. Bright light sources also should be removed from the peripheral vision."    (Continued via MedicineNet)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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