Health Watch: Eye Strain From Computer Monitors On The Job

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Sitting at your work desk can put stress on your mind and body - but also your eyes.
In this week's health watch, we take a look at how people can better take care of their eyes in a work environment.

The amount of strain on people's eyes in the workplace can depend on the type of display device they're using, such as a computer monitor for work.
The commonly used term for these devices is video display terminal or VDT.
This includes tablets, smartphones, and computers.

According to Stanley Fuller, from the Eye Clinic of Fairbanks, a recent U.S. study showed that 87 percent of people were found to have used their device for more than 2 hours per day.

Fuller says adjusting your eyes to a computer screen begins with light.

"And other settings as well, like brightness, play a role and also the light around the monitor plays a role. You want to shoot for having equal brightness in your all of your visual field. So you don't want your monitor to be projecting more light than the light coming around it."

Fuller recommends that the monitor be at least 26 inches away from your eyes.
The center of the monitor should at least 5 to 6 inches below the level of your eyes as well.
This will help lessen the stress on your neck muscles and allow for a more natural viewing posture.

"Some general recommendations include getting a comprehensive eye exam. We want to make sure that the we know what your refraction is. Do you need glasses and how strong of glasses? And if you do need glasses, to correct either for refractive error or what's called a stigmatism. Correcting for those things will help lessen the eye strain in general. Also comprehensive eye exam will allow us to see do you have any that predisposes you to things like dry eyes or other conditions that may make it more difficult for you to maintain a healthy any symptom free experience while you're using the monitors."

Staring at a monitor may also result in symptoms such as dry eyes, fatigue, eye strain, or blurry vision.
Other non-ocular symptoms might be headaches, neck and back strain, and shoulder tension.
Reminding yourself to get up a few times and stretch while blinking your eyes also helps.

Fuller says people tend to blink less when staring at a computer monitor or other electronic devices.

"If you're struggling with your computer, you're struggling with your eyes. Having these symptoms at work, the best place to start is to talk to your eye doctor and find out is there something that can be done with glasses. Is it related to some underlining dryness that you can treat? Or there are other things that can be done to adjust your work station and looking into those things can certainly help make a difference. Help you feel more comfortable and be more productive throughout your work day."