Saturday, March 17, 2012

Computer Use & Eyestrain in Birmingham

“Excessive computer use can impact your eyes more than you think and even cause considerable eyestrain,” commented Birmingham Ophthalmologist Marc Michelson, M.D., Medical Director of Alabama Eye & Cataract Center. There are some important things to know about computer and video display terminal use, your eyes and eyestrain. Staring at your computer screen, smartphone, video game or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage, but your eyes may feel dry and tired. Although there are no long-term studies at this time, we do not believe there is any reason to be concerned that 3-D movies, TV or video games will damage the eyes or visual system. Normally, you blink about 18 times a minute, but only blink half that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play. Reading, writing or other intensive “near work” can also cause eyestrain of a similar nature.

It is helpful in avoiding computer related eyestrain if you first position yourself about 24” from the screen you are viewing and with your eye gaze is slightly downward. It also helps to reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly and if possible use a screen filter if needed. It may seem silly but post a note that says “Blink!” on the computer as a reminder. Then, use the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. It is also helpful to use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry. Make sure that you take regular breaks from computer work, and be sure to get enough sleep at night. Now, if you wear contacts for the computer screen it’s important that you use and care for them properly in order to avoid eye irritation, swelling, infection and vision problems. Also, give your eyes a break and wear your glasses instead of your contacts sometime. Consider a special prescription and lens coating for computer use to help manage eyestrain and fatigue. If you wish to learn more about computers, vision, eyestrain and your eyes please feel free to call Alabama Eye & Cataract Center at 205-930-0930.