Local News

Bad Lighting, Poor Planning Can Lead To Computer Vision Syndrome

Posted August 6, 2001 5:27 a.m. EDT

— If you think your vision is going it may not be just your age. The problem could be found at the office.

At work, you are in front of the computer. After work, you are in pain. Optics Engineer Sharon Middendorf says your eyes may be working too hard.

"By the end of the day, you're rubbing your eyes and nose or the back of your neck. That's an occipital headache, and what that means is that all day long, your eyes are having to work really hard to see what's going on on that computer," said Middendorf.

The American Optometric Assocation calls it Computer Vision Syndrome -- red and itchy eyes, headache, and neck strain. The cause may be found in your office. While your computer may be state-of the art, the overhead lights were designed for typewriters and paperwork.

"When you're working on a computer, it's a self-illuminating device -- you don't need as much overhead lighting to see, so now you're getting washout similar to what you get on your television with sunlight," said Middendorf.

Middendorf says your eyes have to strain to cut through the glare on your computer. She recommends an anti-glare filter.

"When you add a filter, it really cuts down on those reflections and makes it easier to focus on the work you've been doing," said Middendorf.

Middendorf has other tips as well. Turn down the overhead lights and get a small task light for your desk. Use blinds or shades on windows. And make sure your computer is the proper height.

"Most offices are set up for the average height of 5'6" or 5'7", well, the average height for women is 5'4," said Middendorf.

Adjust your chair or desk if possible. And don't forget the 3-B's -- blink, breathe and break frequently.

Do not forget to see your eye doctor regularly, to make sure you are wearing the proper prescription glasses or contacts. Those anti-glare computer filters, by the way, run anywhere from $100 to $300.