Dear Dr. Levister:
At work, I spend hours in front of a computer. My eyes feel strained and dry. Is there any correlation? G.A.
With so many of us using computers at work, vision problems related to prolonged use have become major job-related complaints. Studies show that eye strain, dryness and other bothersome visual symptoms occur in 50 to 90 percent of computer workers, but luckily, the problems are usually only short-term and can be avoided.
Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. Steps you can take to reduce symptoms include:
• Blink. People blink at least half as much as normal when staring at the computer screen, because people usually squint and your eyes are not made for looking at monitors. It may be hard to remember to do this constantly, so every now and then you can close your eyes for a few seconds.
10-10-10. Every 10 minutes, look at an object 10 feet away for 10 seconds to get them adjusted to long-distance too, so you are ready when you get off the computer.
• Adjust the screen settings. Make your screen a bit duller, it is actually easier to read. The screen should be just as bright as your surroundings, and should not appear to be a glowing box nor pitch black object. Get used to a brightness of 0. Contrast should usually be in the level of the 80s, but they are different for different screens. Contrast is the strength of the colors compared next to each other.
• Back up the screen, but not so much that you have to strain to read the text. 16-24 inches is a good distance, depending on your eyesight and the size of the screen. Consider changing to larger text on every site accessed on your browser.
Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce eye problems associated with computer use.