T Nation

Eye Fatigue From Computer

I’m on the computer for long hours most days due to my job. While posture is one fight – and I’m grateful for the Computer Guy articles – eye fatigue is another.

I already try to take a lot of fish oil. Is there anything else I can take that would help?

[quote]JDK wrote:
I’m on the computer for long hours most days due to my job. While posture is one fight - and I’m grateful for the Computer Guy articles - eye fatigue is another.

I already try to take a lot of fish oil. Is there anything else I can take that would help??[/quote]

At one point I thought I had eye fatigue also. Not sure if the switch to LCD or sitting at a better angle to the screen helped, but I know it mysteriously went away. I also got alot more sleep. If you’ve been working out alot it might be that. Every few months try to ease up on the training.

I have a bit of distance blindness,not severe,but I have it.
I think the PC monitor is “responsible”

Your computer screen flickers like a strobe light. It’s so fast your brain filters it out, but your eyes still see it. Hence the fatigue. That’s also why they keep you up at night. The flat screens and LCD’s have a higher refresh rate, so they are a bit easier on the eyes, but still the earlier you cut the computer off the easier it will be to sleep.

[quote]Horazio wrote:
I have a bit of distance blindness,not severe,but I have it.
I think the PC monitor is “responsible”[/quote]

Same here. Spend all day in front of a pc and it’s getting annoying now.

I’ll probably have to look into (pun intended) laser eye surgery one day.

I am an eye doctor and I can tell you many, many people have similar symptoms from prolonged computer use. This is due to a number of reasons. The flicker rate of the screen does cause fatigue like Gabby said. We blink less when staring a computer screen, so your eyes dry out.

Also, it is difficult for the eyes to focus on a computer screen because the edges of the letters are not as crisp as printed material (this is much better than it used to be, remember the black screen with green block letters!?)

Here are some simple ways to reduce eyestrain when working on the computer:

20/20/20 Rule:
Every twenty minutes take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at something at least 20 feet away. This lets the muscles in your eye responsible for focusing completely relax and recover, thus letting you work longer without eyestrain.

Keep a bottle of artificial tear drops next to your computer (but not a “get the red out” drop, just artificial tears for lubrication). Put a drop in each eye about once an hour.

Remember, your blink rate goes down when concetrating or reading, this will help the eyes stay more moist. The drops work best if used BEFORE your eyes feel dry/ irritated/ bloodshot, etc. Think of it like being thirsty – better to prevent thirst to stay hydrated than try to “catch up” once you are thirsty.

Reduce glare on the screen to make it easier for your eyes to focus. This includes reflections off the screen from windows or lighting. If possible, have your printed material illuminated with as direct of a light as possible.

For example, a flexible lamp. This way you can shine the light where you need it and keep it off your computer screen. Some folks even find it easier on the eyes to wear dark colored shirts – light colored shirts reflect off the screen and cause a little bit of glare. Reducing causes of glare will make it easier for your eyes to focus and reduce eyestrain.

Finally (and maybe this should be first), make sure that your glasses or contact lens prescription is up to date and accurate. I often prescribe “computer glasses” to let the eyes be more relaxed (not work so hard focusing, etc) when working on the computer.

A computer prescription is slightly different than a reading presciption, any eye doc should know how to determine the ideal power for computer glasses based on your eye exam findings.

If you are age 40-50, have never needed glasses, but are having trouble with the computer – you may be noticing normal changes that come at this age and it may be time for some computer glasses or reading glasses. In other words, time to get your eyes checked.

Sorry for the long reply, but there is your free professional advice.

Every thirty minutes or so, focus on something in the distance, then something a little closer and then the object in the distance again. do this for about five minutes. It’ll keep your eyes from fatiguing.

Thanks for all the advice (esp from the eye doc)! Just realized I have a lot of glare on my screen (position of screen to windows), will do something about that.

Also, computer glasses are an interesting suggestion. I’ve never needed glasses, but if they make my eyes work less, then its something I’ll look into.

They make glare screen’s which block out the glare… It means you have to look at your monitor dead on, but if you’re not sharing it with several people this shouldn’t be an issue.

The screens just clip to the top of the monitor and fold down over your screen.

[quote]Uncle Gabby wrote:
Your computer screen flickers like a strobe light. It’s so fast your brain filters it out, but your eyes still see it. Hence the fatigue. That’s also why they keep you up at night. The flat screens and LCD’s have a higher refresh rate, so they are a bit easier on the eyes, but still the earlier you cut the computer off the easier it will be to sleep. [/quote]

That’s not quite right. LCDs generally have a lower refresh rate than CRTs. My 19" LCD runs at 75hz refresh @ 1280*1024res, whereas my old CRT would run a similar resolution at 100hz refresh.

If you’ve got a Nvidia-based graphics card, you might want to crank up the “digital vibrance” setting. It’s a lot easier on the eyes and makes colors (especially in games) appear that much better.

LCD’s have a lower refresh rate, but they refresh differently than CRT monitors - They are easier on the eyes.

[quote]koots wrote:
Keep a bottle of artificial tear drops next to your computer (but not a “get the red out” drop, just artificial tears for lubrication). [/quote]

Thanks for the great reply. Why not the “get the red out” type?

I believe they have some kind of medication in them that you don’t want to apply as often.

But i’m not an eye doctor.

[quote]P1 wrote:
Thanks for the great reply. Why not the “get the red out” type?[/quote]

The chemical that “gets the red out” causes the blood vessels on the surface of the eye to constrict, thus your eyes are less red. However, over time the vessels come to depend on that chemical and will be dilated (making your eyes look red) unless the vasoconstrictor chemical is present.

Short answer: Your eyes become dependent on the drops like a crack whore. Used in moderation, just once in a while, its no big deal. But if you are using several drops a day, just stick with plain ol’ artificial tears to provide some extra lubrication (for your eyes, not your crack whore).