As an optometrist, I often hear people complain about eyestrain at work. With the amount of computer work people do these days, it’s no wonder. Some of the most common complaints from patients are tired or sore eyes, headaches that center around the eyes or at the back of the neck, burning or watering eyes. These symptoms of eyestrain do not necessarily come from using computers. Anything that requires long periods of up-close focusing can cause these symptoms, like reading, video games, even homework. Though that is not an excuse for your teenagers to get out of doing their daily assignments!
There are some key things that people can do to alleviate some of these symptoms. First and foremost, a person should have a vision exam to see if they have any uncorrected vision problems. A Valuvision eye exam is fully comprehensive and can uncover many vision ailments. Presbyopia, the dreaded 40-year old “my arms are too short” ailment is a very common cause of eyestrain. Presbyopia is a health condition where the eye exhibits a progressively worse ability to focus on near objects as the patient ages. Astigmatism, where the eye is misshapen, can also cause blurriness wherever a person may want to look. These are simple problems that can easily be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Other things that may help include evaluating the work station. Where does the computer monitor sit? Is it longer than an arm’s distance away? The further away something is, the less strain on the eyes. Is it at or below eye level? Having it below eye level accomplishes two things: (1) there is less tension on the back neck muscles and (2) the eyelids are lowered which helps keep the eyes from drying out. Is the monitor a flat screen? A flat screen will reduce glare. If you do different tasks at your desk, try to have them all around the same distance. For instance, if you go back and forth between paperwork and monitor, try placing them the same distance away. This will diminish the need to focus and refocus all day long.
A burning or stinging sensation could be a sign of dry eyes. If it only happens when a person is sitting at the computer or when reading a book, it could be because they are so concentrated on what they are doing that they blink less often. A mild artificial tear or moisturizing eye drop a few times during the day should help. I would avoid any drops that “get the red out” or have any alcohol in the ingredient list as this may make things worse.
Finally, I invoke the 20/20 Rule: take a break every 20 minutes and relax your eyes by looking 20 feet away. Do this for a minute or two. And if your boss catches you, tell him or her that your doctor prescribed it!
If you are experiencing eye strain in Jacksonville Florida or Orange Florida, Valuvision Eye Care has board certified eye doctors, ready to meet your eye care needs. Stop by www.valuvision.com to contact us today and to read more useful information on eye care.
Written by Dr. Del Campo of Valuvision Regency