PUBLISHED: 2:27 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Prescriptions key to solving computer related vision trouble

During virtually all of her eye exams, optometrist Tamara Bonnes asks patients about their computer use. And for good reason.

As people spend more and more time using computers, their eyes undergo more stress and strain.

"It's a real issue at this point," said Bonnes of Precision Vision in Grand Island. "There are very few people who don't use the computer."

The American Optometric Association's Web site lists computer vision syndrome as a term for eye discomfort associated with computer use. Symptoms include eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, dry or irritated eyes, neck aches and/or backaches and double vision.

Computer vision syndrome is believed to be a more prevalent computer-related health problem than carpal tunnel, although it's not as well known, Bonnes said.

She said the cause of any person's computer vision syndrome can be a complex combination of ergonomics, existing eye problems and the nature of the visual stimulus.

While doctors do not think it has serious long-term consequences, eyestrain can affect productivity and make working uncomfortable in the short term.

Eyestrain can be corrected or prevented through proper posture, placement of the computer screen and, if necessary, the right prescription eyewear.

The Mayo Clinic recommends people position their computer monitor 20 to 28 inches from their eyes, with the screen positioned slightly lower than the line of sight. Computer users should also beware of bright lighting and glare on their screens.

People who suffer from eye dryness can use eye drops to relieve their discomfort, and those who use prescription eyewear can have their prescription adjusted for computer use.

By taking the proper preventative measures and making adjustments where needed, people can avoid what Bonnes called a "very real" computer-related health problem.