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Avoid Eyestrain With Workplace Changes
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Computer-related eyestrain, which may lead to more serious damage, can easily be prevented by making minor adjustments in work space.
Linda Patterson, health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said significant time spent viewing computer screens can result in temporary but unpleasant aches and vision problems. Fortunately, there is no evidence that eyestrain caused by computers results in permanent vision damage.
"People are spending more and more time in front of computers at home, work and school. If we take our work environment for granted, we run an increased risk of making our eyes work too hard," Patterson said.
Although disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome can cause long-term injury, computer-related eye problems, which cost millions in medical bills each year, are more common but easily corrected.
Some factors that lead to eyestrain are unavoidable like the normal deterioration of vision that begins around age 40. Other factors that lead to eyestrain may easily be avoided.
Avoid eyestrain and keep eyes moist and relaxed by blinking. Studies show that people blink less often when working at computers. Small typeface, improper background colors and monitor contrast also cause eyestrain.
"Your eyes are overwhelmed if you often have headaches, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, extremely dry or watery eyes, or pains in your neck, back or shoulders," Patterson said. "To reverse the effects of eyestrain, adapt your work environment to your body posture instead of adapting your body posture to your work environment."
Follow these easy steps to reduce eyestrain:
- Position the monitor 16 to 30 inches away from eyes. It should be four to eight inches lower than eye level. Position the monitor as if it were a book or magazine, so that the eyes look slightly down towards it. Large-screen monitors with a higher pixel count and higher refresh rate prevent eyestrain.
- Light sources should be perpendicular to the computer to avoid reflection on the screen or directly into the eyes. Glare screens are also available to combat reflection problems.
- Dust the screen with an anti-static cloth to keep fingerprints and smudges from making the image on the monitor look fuzzy.
"Eyes are fragile and should be treated with care," Patterson said. "An eye exam from your ophthalmologist can rule out eye disease. Look for the cause of eyestrain in your surroundings."