Computer vision – A new disease?

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under At Home, At Work, Health, Lifestyle, Wellness

We are all spending more and more time in front of a computer; shopping online, checking emails, reading our horoscope (or is t hat just me?). It is easy to forget the time, but your eyes will remind you because hours spent staring at a computer screen means you risk suffering tired, dry eyes, blurred vision, eye strain, headache, and sensitivity to light. This has led to a new ‘disease’ being recognised, collectively those symptoms are becoming known as “computer vision syndrome.”

The American Optometric Association certainly has recognised it as a growing problem with an estimated 10 million people visiting their optometrist annually for computer eye-related difficulties. Apparently, according to the Optometric Association, a computer is a challenging environment for the eyes because the imagery is not as clear as it seems to be, and because of that it’s harder for the eye to focus than it would be on ordinary print on a page.

First step is to get your eyes checked and if you spend more than a couple of hours a day in front of the computer you should mention it to your optician so they can see whether you need separate glasses for that, or a screen filter to help reduce glare and eye discomfort. If you wear bifocals, or varifocals, you can also suffer from neck and shoulder problems because these glasses are often not set for the computer so you end up having to move your head closer to the computer while at the same time tipping your head back to see the screen. That’s an awkward position and if you have been suffering from a stiff neck it could be the reason why.

One simple tip that helps is to blink more often because that lubricates your eyes. When we concentrate, our blink rate goes down, leading to dry eyes. Try adopting the 20/20 rule – every 20 minutes look away from your computer for about 20 seconds; this will minimize the development of eye-focusing problems and eye irritation caused by not blinking enough.

Check the lighting, you don’t want too much bright overhead light or any kind of glare or reflection off your computer screen. Finally, is your monitor at the right height? Experts advise that for maximum ergonomic comfort, the screen should be right in front of you so you don’t have to twist to see it and the monitor should be at eye level, or a little below it.

Blinking for eye health

January 2, 2008 by  
Filed under At Home, At Work, Health, Lifestyle

You know the saying ‘blink and you’ve missed it’; well if you don’t blink what you could be missing is your best chance to take care of your eyes and depriving them of nourishment and cleansing. If you want to take up a new habit this year, then practice frequent and gentle blinking because it is essential to the health of your eyes and vision because it allows your eyelids to regularly coat your eyes with three beneficial layers of tears and this will help prevent eye strain.

1. The first layer of tears lies right up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture for the second layer to adhere to.

2. The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture.

3. The third outer layer of tears is a little oily so it helps prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly. This gives you much-needed lubrication between your eyes and your eyelids.

If your eyes are not regularly coated with the three layers of tears described above, they will be deprived of ‘essential maintenance’ in the form of nourishment and cleansing. The side effect of this is that by not blinking enough you are potentially subjecting your eyes to eye strain. What can you do? Well for the best results, you need to blink softly every two to four seconds. It will seem odd and unnatural, but if you consciously make an effort to do this then, over time, your body will turn your conscious efforts into a subconscious habit.

Don’t stare fixedly at the television, computer screen or when reading. I am a speed-reader so my blink rate is very low and I have been working to increase it by ‘fluttering’ my eyelashes at the screen – happily only my cats are around to see it and I am feeling the benefit. One other suggestion is to close your eyes whenever you are thinking about something; it will also have the benefit of improving your concentration. Try it when you are stuck when in the middle of composing an e-mail message, close your eyes while you think of your next sentence, or any other time you can rest your vision.

By the way, if you wear contact lenses then it is very important you either lubricate your eyes or make sure you blink frequently. Contact lenses can discourage frequent blinking because the back surface of your eyelids is not designed to rub over an artificial surface and can result in dry eyes.