Q. Do computers damage the eyes?
A. No, computers do not directly damage the eyes. However, sustained periods of staring at a computer monitor can impose some demands on the eyes and visual system that can lead to eye-strain and related symptoms. This set of eye problems has been referred to as "computer vision syndrome" or "occupational aesthenopia", and can include one or more of the following symptoms: headache, transient blur, dry eye (burning, grittiness or episodes of excess tearing), tired eyes, and a feeling of general discomfort associated in or around the eyes.
Q. How do you check for and treat computer-related eye problems?
A. At our office, if your complaints lead me to suspect a computer-related vision problem, I'll first ask questions about your working distances, time spent using a computer, ergonomics and other facts about your computer work. I will then specifically test your accommodative (focusing) system, your ability to maintain convergence of the two eyes at close distances, your general eye muscle coordination, and your near point refractive error. I may perform tests to determine the integrity and quality of your tear film, especially under conditions where visual concentration may over-ride the autonomic blink reflex and dry eye may result from not blinking at appropriate intervals. Many of these tests are a part of the comprehensive eye examination and will be done even if you do not have any symptoms.
Treatment of computer-related eye problems may include optimizing the prescription of your corrective lenses for sustained computer work, prescribing dedicated computer glasses or specific antireflection lens coatings, advising optimal ergonomics, habits and intervals for taking breaks, suggesting specific eyedrops or ocular lubricants to relieve dry eye symptoms, or when appropriate, prescribing eye exercises (orthoptics) to strengthen convergence muscles to improve sustained binocular coordination.