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Coping with Computer Eyestrain

Written by Rita Kennen

Did you know that a computer screen overworks the focusing mechanism of the human eye?

The classic symptoms are headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, tearing, itchy eyes and a stiff neck.

The problem? Computer vision syndrome, or CVS. A study by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety says that almost 90 percent of people who work with computers for more than three hours a day suffer from some kind of eye trouble.

Working at a computer all day is the same as making your eyes do 60 push-ups a minute.
Your eyes dry out quicker reading information on a computer than from the printed page.
It's harder to focus as you grow older.

Whether you're a writer, graphic designer, secretary or anyone who works continuously at a computer, your eyes are getting a workout shifting focus between the screen, the source documents on your desk, and your keyboard as many as 25,000 times a day. Think of it as your eyes doing 60 pushups a minute. A study conducted in Japan showed that visual strain occurred after only 60 minutes of computer work.

Print vs. Computer
Your eyes respond differently to reading a computer screen than reading a printed page. Here's why:

Print

Computer screen

Gives an even stimulus to the eye with black-on-white contrast.

No sharp contrast. Characters consist of pixels, which are bright in the center and dim along the edges. Eyes get fatigued from the strain of constantly refocusing.

Proper lighting, directed on the page, is easier to read.

Light emerges from the computer screen, making it harder on the eyes.

Blinking decreases with prolonged computer use, increasing dryness and pain.

Ability to focus is reduced, resulting in headaches and neck pain

Starting at age 40, all of us lose our ability to focus, say ophthalmologists from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. We're hearing more complaints from baby boomers, because they're using the computer in growing numbers.

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