Health Watch -- Computer Woes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

What effect does computer use have on your eyes?

If you spend much of your day working on a computer, you may notice that your eyes feel tired at the end of the day. You may also have headaches and difficulty focusing. Is the computer ruining your eyes?

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say computer screens don't actually damage vision. It may be the way you're using the computer that's straining your eyes.

First, evaluate your workspace. Dr. Preston Blomquist, a UT Southwestern ophthalmologist, says that part of the problem is that while we've moved into the computer age, our workspaces quite often haven't. We're using computers on desks that weren't designed for computer use, and we have office lighting that doesn't necessarily work with computer screens.

To reduce eye fatigue, arrange your workspace properly. Your monitor should be centered in front of you, about one arm's length away. The top of the screen should be level with your eyes. Make sure there's no glare on your screen. Keep your monitor screen and your glasses clean. Adjust font size, contrast and brightness until you find the setting that's most comfortable for you.

Take frequent breaks from your computer, even if it's just to stare out the window for a little while. Focusing on a different distance helps you avoid eye strain. If taking these steps doesn't make your eyes feel better, schedule an eye exam. You may need vision correction or a new prescription, or there may be another problem.


March 2004