Computer VDU’s & Eye Damage

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Avoiding Computer Damage

  • Ensure that the room is well lit
  • Avoid reflections on the screen and low ambient light
  • Make sure the monitor is at the right level
  • Lowering the screen will allow your eyelid to close slightly, keeping the eye moist.
  • Take a few moments every few minutes to look away from the screen and blink.
  • Take regular breaks away from the screen.

Computer use has increased dramatically in the last two decades. If you work in an office, there’s a good chance you’re staring at your screen 6 to 8 hours per day 260 days a year. Many people go home and spend additional hours in front of the computer reading email, engaging in chat room discussions, downloading music, watching television or videos, and more. Video game players can spend very extended periods in front of their computer VDUs (visual display units).

The question is whether or not all of this staring at computer monitors can cause serious damage to our eyes. Below is a review of some of the facts regarding eye damage and computer VDUs.

Computer Eye Problems

The main reason people suspect that there is a connection between eye damage and computer monitors, is due to the high number of users who report eye problems. According to the London Hazards Centre, 71 to 90 percent of people who stare at a computer screen for more than six hours a day suffer from eye problems of one sort or another. The centre also reported a growing number of eye issues among children who are spending an increasing amount of time in front of computer VDUs.

Eye Damage Research

Several studies have been conducted on the potential for long-term eye damage caused by excessive computer use. The good news is that no connection between the two has ever been discovered. Most of the eye problems experienced by avid computer users are related to eye strain and not eye damage. Thankfully, eye strain is preventable.

Eye Strain Symptoms

Eye strain actually is a broad term that can include a wide range of different types of symptoms. The most common include eye fatigue, which is a feeling of soreness or heaviness in the eyes similar to what you might experience if you were very sleepy. A burning feeling around your eyes may also be experienced. Additionally, eye strain symptoms can include vision blurring or doubling and eye watering. Along with the symptoms associated with the eye itself, many people who suffer from eye strain also have headaches, which can range from mild discomfort through to painful migraines.

Causes of Eye Strain

The good news is that eye strain is largely preventable because it has little to do with the computer VDUs themselves. The lighting in the environment is usually the real culprit. When the lighting is brighter around the computer screen than on the screen, for example, eye strain may result. Direct glare from lighting on the ceiling or from sunlight coming through a window or even refracting glare caused by the light hitting the computer VDU can lead to this problem Some studies also suggest poor visual quality might also lead to eye strain, possibly because people have to focus more to see what is being displayed.

Corrective Lenses & Computer VDUs

Some statistics suggest that staring too long at a computer screen can cause incidents of nearsightedness in people. However, that is a classic case of what statisticians refer to as “correlation not causation.” While it may be true that people who use a computer for long periods of time may have a higher incident rate of nearsightedness than those who do not, the case is most likely that using the computer helps people realize they have existing vision problems. For example, if they have to make the font bigger to read website content or if they need to use a larger font to read what they are typing, this might suggest a need for an eye examination for the first time in years thus resulting in the diagnosis.

One point that does seem to be true is that people who wear bifocals tend to have physical discomfort after using VDUs for a long time. That’s because they need to be in uncomfortable positions to view the screen correctly in many cases. This can cause back and neck strain on top of the possibility of eye strain.

Although computer VDUs are sometimes blamed for eye damage, the research does not support such a connection. What has been found is that eye strain is the real problem most people are suffering from as a result of overusing their computers. Eye strain can be prevented by making small environmental changes.  For example, lighting changes, such as reducing the brightness for ambient lighting and making sure there are no glares on the computer screen.

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