Your computer monitor and your eyesight

With rising numbers of people using computers a definite increase in the numbers of people with tired eyes and eyestrain has occurred. There is no scientific link between using computers and permanent eye damage, however you do not need a scientist to prove the fact that using a monitor for any great length of time results in tired, red, and sometimes dry eyes.

There is also something called Computer vision syndrome, which is a common eye condition amongst computer screen users. Symptoms can range from tired eyes to blurred vision. If you do experience any of the following symptoms you could have computer vision syndrome. If you find it difficult to focus on distant objects after using a computer, you have headaches, eyestrain or dry eyes you need to take extra care when using a monitor to avoid getting computer vision syndrome. It is also best to visit your optician for an eye test to rule out anything more serious.

Here are some tips to help with tired eyes:

  • Take breaks. Focusing on the screen for long periods can lead to computer vision syndrome so it is important to take regular breaks. You should rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking away from the screen. You can also use the 10-10-10 rule, every ten minutes focus on something at least 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds.
  • Adjust your monitor settings and position. You should adjust your computer so that the monitor settings are comfortable for you. The brightness and contrast can be adjusted so that you are not straining your eyes. Try using a larger font size or using the zoom option on the page layout to make it easier on your eyes. The screen should also be kept clean using special wipes. Your health and safety manager at work will be able to help you ensure the screen is positioned correctly. The screen should be at least at arms lenght away from you, and also new research has discovered that the verticle centre of the monitor should be at eye level.
  • Check the lighting around the computer. There should not be any bright sunlight reflecting onto your screen. Using an anti-glare screen which is fixed onto your monitor is a good idea to reduce any glare and will block any reflections.
  • Blink frequently. Remember to blink at regular intervals. When you are concentrating for a long time at a computer your blink rate slows down. Some people also find that they get dry eyes when using computers. This is one of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome but it can be relieved by using eye drops. Ask your optician for advice if you get dry eyes. Those who wear contact lenses may be more prone to dry eye.
  • Have regular eye tests. Experts recommend that adults should have an eye test at least every two years. An eye test will check your eyesight and will also look for signs of eye disease. Other health problems may also be detected during an eye test.

If you use computers for work you may be entitled to a free eye test, paid for by your employer. Under European legislation employees who use VDUs are entitled to an eye test when they begin using VDUs and at regular intervals throughout their employment. If you experience eye problems which may be a result of using VDUs then you will be entitled to a free eye test. If you then need to wear glasses your employer must pay for a basic pair of glasses or you can pay the difference for a pair of your choice.

Eye Health Tips

Most of us take our eyes for granted. It has been estimated that 50,000 people lose their sight needlessly each year and that 80 million Americans are at risk of eye diseases that can lead to low vision and even blindness. The most common diseases: age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye disease are all preventable to some extent. Here are some tips to look after what you have and prevent these illnesses:

  • Eat Blueberroes. Blueberries are one of the richest fruit forms of antioxidants, and a study published in The Archives of Ophthalmology found that women and men who ate the greatest amount of fruit were the least likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the leading cause of blindness in older people.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Eat spinach Studies find that lutein, a nutrient that is particularly abundant in spinach, may prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Ideally, get your lutein in combination with some form of fat (olive oil works great) for the best absorption.
  • Cook with red onions, not yellow. Red onions contain far more quercetin, an antioxidant that is thought to protect against cataracts.
  • Aim your car vents at your feet – not your eyes. Dry, air-conditioned air will suck the moisture out of eyes like a sponge. Aim the vents in your car away from your eyes, or wear sunglasses as a shield. Dry eyes can be more than an inconvenience; serious dryness can lead to corneal abrasions and even blindness if left untreated.
  • Move your computer screen to just below eye level. Your eyes will close slightly when you’re staring at the computer, minimizing fluid evaporation and the risk of dry eye syndrome, says John Sheppard, M.D., who directs the ophthalmology residency program at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Take a multivitamin every day. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. A major study suggested that if every American at risk for age-related macular degeneration took daily supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, more than 300,000 people could avoid ARMD-associated vision loss over the next five years. Other studies find that women who took vitamin C supplements for at least 10 years were 77 percent less likely to show initial signs of cataracts than those who took no supplemental C. So take a multi with at least 150 mg vitamin C, or take a separate C supplement.
  • Walk at least four times a week. Some evidence suggests that regular exercise can reduce the intraocular pressure, or IOP, in people with glaucoma. In one study, glaucoma patients who walked briskly four times per week for 40 minutes lowered their IOP enough so they could stop taking medication for their condition. It’s also possible – although there’s no proof yet – that walking could also reduce your overall risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Eat fish twice a week. A study from Harvard researchers presented at the 2003 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s annual meeting evaluated the diets of 32,470 women and found those who ate the least amount of fish (thus getting the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids) had the highest risk of dry eye syndrome. Even tuna fish (yes, the kind that comes in a can) protected against the syndrome. If you can’t stand fish, or are worried about mercury consumption, try fish-oil supplements to get your omega-3s.
  • Cut back on greasy or sweet snacks. A 2001 study found that people whose diets were high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids (found in many fat-filled snack foods like commercially prepared pie, cake, cookies, and potato chips) were significantly less likely to develop ARMD than those whose diets were high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, if your diet was high in omega-6 at all – even if you still ate plenty of fish – the protective effects of the omega-3 fatty acids disappeared.
  • Eat sweet potatoes. Since they are rich in vitamin A which can help improve night vision.
  • Turn down the heat in your house. Heat dries out the air, which, in turn, dries out your eyes. In the winter, you might also try adding some humidity with a humidifier or even bunching a lot of plants together in the room in which you spend the most time.
  • Wear sunglasses whenever you leave the house. When researchers examined the relationship between exposure to sunlight and cataracts or ARMD in Chesapeake Bay fishermen, they found that fishermen who protected their eyes from the harsh glare of the sun and its damaging UV rays were significantly less likely to develop these conditions than those who went bare-eyed. Wear the sunglasses even when it’s not sunny out, says Dr. Sheppard. They protect your eyes from the drying effects of wind.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat along with your sunglasses. A wide-brimmed hat or cap will block roughly 50 percent of the UV radiation and reduce the UV radiation that may enter your eyes from above or around glasses.
  • Pick some Southern greens for dinner tonight. Because they are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, greens like collards and kale (delicious when lightly steamed with a splash of hot pepper vinegar) may reduce your risk of developing both cataracts and ARMD, and may even slow progression of these diseases once they’ve begun. Both have strong antioxidant properties, which may help repair some of the damage that contributes to both conditions.
  • Eat fresh beets. Beets get their deep red color from phytochemicals called anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect the smaller blood vessels in your body, including those in your eyes.
  • Switch to “lite” salt or use spices and herbs instead of salt. Studies find that high-salt diets increase your risk of certain types of cataracts, so stay away from the salty stuff. And while you’re de-salting your diet, don’t forget the salt in processed foods. Check labels for “no-salt” or “no-sodium,” or “low-salt” or “low-sodium” tags when buying canned and other prepared foods.
  • Dab an essential oil of jasmine, peppermint, or vanilla on your arm and sniff. Jasmine, says scent researcher Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation, increases the beta waves in the frontal lobes of your brain, promoting wakefulness and enabling you to focus better and see things more acutely. All three scents stimulate the limbic system in your brain, which, in turn, stimulates the rods in your eyes, which help you see in dim light.
  • When you’re working or reading, set your alarm to beep every 30 minutes. Use this as a reminder to look up and away from your computer or book to some distant point for 30 seconds. This helps prevent eye fatigue and eyestrain.
  • Check your blood pressure every month. You can do this yourself with a home blood pressure kit, at the doctor’s office, or at the pharmacy. The two leading causes of blindness in the United States are high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which damage blood vessels.
  • Replace your mascara every three months and other eye makeup once a year. Eye makeup is a great repository for bacteria, which can easily be transferred to your eyes and cause infections.
  • Remove eye makeup before going to bed. This prevents small pieces of mascara from winding up in your eye and possibly scratching your cornea.
  • Wear goggles when you’re doing carpentry or even yard work. Debris in the eye can lead to corneal abrasions, which can ultimately damage your vision. Also use protective goggles when you’re swimming to protect your eyes from the chlorine.
  • Use a fresh towel every time you wipe your face. Sharing face towels is a great way to get conjunctivitis, the infection also known as pinkeye.