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Eye openers for computer users

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Interview: Eye openers for computer users

By Christine Dell`amore

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- An Apple a day may not keep the doctor away -- at least when we`re talking about computers. A recent survey showed 75 percent of American jobs rely on PCs, which means we`re spending more and more time staring at screens. As a result, up to 90 percent of computer users experience computer-related vision problems. Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, a San Diego-area optometrist and editor of the Visual Ergonomics Handbook, talked to United Press International about his vision for healthier eyes in the workplace.

Q. How did you get involved with this issue?

A. I got into computer-vision issues because my office was near a computer manufacturer. Patients started coming in with bizarre vision problems. We`ve named it `computer vision syndrome,` or CVS, which refers to eye symptoms that occur during or after people use computers. The symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.

People are using computers longer, and one of the problems I`ve noticed on the ergonomic side is everyone has a computer monitor in their face. From a visual standpoint, it`s way too high. Take a piece of paper and look at it. You`ll find you hold it down, since our eyes prefer to look down to read.

Q. Is CVS a new phenomenon?

A. The American Optometric Association named it just over 10 years ago. It`s not a life or death issue, but it`s a functional, comfort and productivity issue. Here`s the thing -- with eye problems in general, vision problems are slow to develop and are painless. This may not be a screamer issue like carpal tunnel syndrome but a subtle thing that builds up over time.

Q. How is it treated?

A. The 3 Bs: blink, breathe, break. With our (computer) monitor set so high, we blink less. Normal blinking is 18-22 times a minute; when we use the computer, it goes down to seven times a minute. Tilting the monitor will help. Breathing is a matter of maintaining blood flow and alertness. When you think about sitting for two hours and not moving much, the blood flow slows down. As for breaks, I developed the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. It allows your eyes to relax and unfocus during the day.

Q. Are Americans aware of this as a problem?

A. Up to 88 percent of people experience eye strain, whether they are terming it computer vision syndrome or not. Because it`s painless and slow to develop, they might not realize (it`s related to the computer). Someone goes home with a headache and says, `Oh, it`s just a bad day.` It`s important a person gets an eye exam every year, especially computer users.

Q. Why do contact lenses worsen CVS?

A. Lenses require constant cleaning and rewetting -- if you`re wearing a lens that doesn`t maintain moisture, it`s going to dry out quicker. There`s a new category of contact lens that works better, called silicone hydrogels. These lenses stay wetter longer.

Q. What are some tips for dealing with computer use?

A. -- Your (computer) monitor and surrounding illumination should be equal. It`s the same reason your mother told you not to watch TV in the dark.

-- If you have windows, keep them shaded. Make sure the window is off to the side, not behind the monitor or behind you. (A window in front of you promotes eye strain.)

-- Sit back in your chair, and look straight ahead over the top of your monitor.

-- A comfortable work posture means you should reach your arms to the monitor. If you can touch it, you`re too close -- try to keep a minimum of 24 inches between your eyes and the monitor.

-- The top of your monitor should be tilted back so it`s perpendicular to your eyes. (The center of the screen should be 5 to 9 inches below your eye level.)

Q. Computer use continues to explode. What are the long-term ramifications for our eyes?

A. There haven`t been studies that show using a computer is worse than near-point viewing. But studies do show near-point viewing creates nearsightedness and makes it worse. It`s maybe not the computer itself, but the fact we`re doing everything on it. In 1993 the CEO of Apple foresaw a time in the future we`d work, shop and play all on our desktop. Turns out that happened in five years.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

To learn more about visual ergonomics:  :shock:

    www.computerquiz.jnjvision.com

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Hi , I think the members lounge, may well prove to be  a major causes of eye strain on TMN;)

But thanks ROM-DOS  for the head up on  this topic, I did the linked test , and for a change I seem to be doing things right

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