Computers and eyecare
Computers are tiring on your eyes. Learn how to avoid eyestrain - with Specsavers Opticians
Published 14/03/2011 | 11:57
COMPUTERS are part of everyday life. While most people experience no adverse side effects, some can suffer from eyestrain, tired eyes, redness, irritation, blurred or double vision, backaches and headaches.
These symptoms can be uncomfortable but rarely last long and there is usually something that you can do to ease them.
Computer-related eye problems are often caused by existing vision disorders, such as long sight, short sight or astigmatism. But, in many cases, they can also be caused by the way you use your computer.
Modern computer screens are easy to use – except when they are damaged or badly set up. Adjust the brightness and size of the words or images on the screen until you can see them comfortably. Avoid screens that flicker or have poor contrast, as they can cause headaches and eyestrain.
Your screen should be 60-80cm away from your eyes – about arm’s length - with the top at, or below, eye level. Your keyboard should be placed directly in front of the monitor. Use a copy stand for reading and reference materials, placed at the same angle and distance as the monitor.
Try to eliminate glare and reflections from your computer screen, by moving it away from a window or adjusting the lighting. Tilt the monitor downwards or move it to a different position, so that the room’s brightest lights are off to the side. Alternatively, use screen shields or filters.
Your eyes make more than 10,000 movements an hour when working at a computer, so they will get tired. Take eye breaks by looking away from the screen every 10 to 15 minutes and move away from the computer every two hours, to give both your eyes and body a complete rest.
Computer users tend to blink much less, resulting in dry eyes - particularly if you are working in an air-conditioned office, which also has a drying effect. To avoid this, some people make a habit of blinking every time they hit the return key.
Cleanliness can make a big difference. Smeared or smudged lenses make glare and reflections much worse, while static electricity attracts dust particles from the air onto the computer screen. Remember to clean both your specs and your screen regularly.
But don’t always blame headaches and dry eyes on your computer; temperature, humidity or poor ventilation can all affect your eyes. Working in an awkward position can cause tension in your back, neck and shoulders, leading to a headache. Make sure you adjust your chair so that it is at a comfortable height and supports your lower back – a footrest may help.
Shifting your gaze from screen to keyboard forces your eyes to change focus quickly, resulting in eyestrain. Special glasses can help, with lenses that correct your vision at the intermediate distance between your eyes and the screen, or tints and lens treatments to reduce screen glare.
Every employee in Ireland who habitually uses a VDU as a significant part of their normal work has a right to opt for an eye and eyesight test, at their employer’s own cost - except where there may be a social welfare entitlement.
While VDUs are now a common feature in many jobs, this only applies to employees with regular and significant use. This might mean using a VDU for one continuous hour or more as part of everyday work.
If symptoms such as headaches persist, you should always consult your doctor or optician. You may only need a change of prescription in your glasses or contact lenses, but it could also be a sign of something more serious - so get it checked.
At Specsavers, you will only ever be examined by a fully qualified optometrist; or an undergraduate in their final year, under supervision (as locally run opticians, we are passionate about encouraging and developing home-grown talent). Our total commitment to improving the eye health of the nation, advancing the knowledge of our staff and upgrading our facilities and optical equipment has made us Ireland’s most trusted optician¹.
For more information about eyecare and to book an eye test online visit www.specsavers.ie or check the Golden Pages for your nearest store.
¹ Millward Brown Lansdowne survey (February 2010)