Working too long at computer screen can cause vision problems

September 18, 2012 8:21:42 AM PDT
Spending too much time in front of the computer may make your eyes burn and water. It's happening to adults at work as well as kids. One medical group found 60 percent of kids spent four hours a day on the computer or smart phone.

Lisa Merkl said, "I spent so many hours just staring at the computer with my distance glasses, I would just constantly go, go, go for hours and hours."

Merkl ended up with computer vision syndrome. Millions who stare at a screen all day know exactly what that feels like -- dry eyes, blurry vision, eye strain and headaches.

University of Houston optometry professor David Berntsen explained, "A lot of people are surprised to hear that when they look at a computer screen or look at any type of monitor the amount they blink actually decreases."

Berntsen says you just have to remember to take time to blink.

"It sounds very simple but thinking about blinking when you're sitting there is an important thing," Berntsen said.

Having the screen in the wrong place also causes dry eyes. Your eye level should be at the top of the computer screen.

"What you don't want to have is your screen sitting up high ... where your line of sight is right in the middle of the screen," Berntsen said.

Glare can strain both your eyes and your neck.

Berntsen said, "Craning your neck in odd ways in order to see better because of that glare off the screen those can lead to stiffness and neck or your back over time."

To reverse computer vision syndrome:

  • Avoid glare
  • Set eye level at the top of the screen
  • Remind yourself to blink
  • Look up and focus across the room for 20 seconds
  • Avoid vents -- blowing air causes dry eyes and watery eyes

Merkl solved her computer vision syndrome with computer glasses.

"No headaches, no nausea," she said. "My vision won't get as blurry and the computer glasses have just been wonderful."

And her vision actually improved.