At Risk - Computer Screen Glare and Eye Damage By Staff Writer

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As the amount of technology used in today’s world increases, so do the concerns for health and safety.  Numerous persons who utilize computers on a regular basis complain of difficulties with their vision.  Scientific research conducted by experts in the field indicate that, though it is common for discomfort and fatigue for the eyes, there is no permanent damage from using computers on a regular basis.  There was one study, completed in Japan in 2004, which did however, find an increased risk for myopic (nearsighted) individuals who use computers on a regular basis and an incidence of Glaucoma.

            NIOSH provides estimated statistics, which indicate more than sixty million Americans alone, suffer from eye related problems from the use of computers.  The majority of research and complaints by those who use computers on a regular long-term basis involves eyestrain and headaches.  These issues are not the result of the monitor or computer itself, but instead result from a combination of factors.  In regards to eyestrain, there are some optometrists who believe it can be of a repetitive nature, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.   Regardless of the fact that there is little to no evidence of permanent eye damage being caused by the computer, it is important for the users to reduce the amount of strain and fatigue.

There are many different possible-contributing factors to eye problems related to computer use.  They include:

  • Using bifocals which are set for a typical reading distance of sixteen inches, and where computer monitors are usually further away than sixteen inches.
  • The set distance of the computer monitor causing the worker to focus on one specific distance for a long period of time.
  • The fact that information on a computer monitor is brightest in the middle then fades out, as it gets closer to the edge.  This causes the eyes to overwork to compensate and can result in strain to the eyes.
  • Prolonged use of the computer without adequate breaks, causing increased stress and strain to the eyes.
  • Inadequate or improper placement and/or use of lighting. (glares too much or is too dark).
  • Other eye problems. (allergies, dry eyes, unaligned eye muscles, etc.)

There are simple steps one can take to limit the amount of eye fatigue or strain you may experience when working at a computer for long periods of time, including:

  • Moving the monitor at least twenty inches from your eyes and keeping it at eye level.
  • Taking twenty-second “eye breaks” and focusing on objects far away during the breaks.  Try to incorporate these breaks every thirty minutes of work time.
  • Use of document holders to keep your eyes from constantly having to refocus on different media with different lighting.
  • Reduce the glare on the screen. (eliminate or reducing overhead or direct light, invest in a LCD Glare filter)
  • Use Glare Guard to reduce glare.
  • Rob rotation, such as switching tasks every 30-60 minutes in order to reduce strain on eyes and increase overall productivity by being active.

Eyestrain can be prevented or greatly reduced by implementing a few of the changes listed above, increasing the overall health and productivity of the workplace.  If your office has yet to make such positive chances, talk to the health and safety director, as it can significantly reduce workers compensation and insurance claims while creating a healthier, happier workplace!