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February 29, 2012

March is “Save Your Vision” Month

The doctors and staff at the University Eye Center (UEC) would like to remind everyone about the importance of good vision and healthy eyes.  Seeing clearly and maintaining healthy eyes are important.  Vision is a sense that allows a person to see clearly and helps towards work efficiency.  One needs to be aware of their vision and age-related eye diseases.  Several factors contribute to the onset of vision problems with a main factor being the computer.

Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time often encounters a variety of uncomfortable symptoms (headaches, neck strain, backaches, wrist pain, etc.).  But, the most prevalent symptoms of prolonged computer use are blurred vision and dry eye.  These symptoms are often overlooked.  In fact, eye and vision problems are the most frequently reported health care problemls among computer users.  They contribute to computer vision syndrome which the American Optometric Association (AOA) defines as "the complex eye and vision problems related to near work that are experienced during computer use."  sitting at a computer generally causes a person to look sstraight ahead for prolonged periods of time; work in a dry office or home environment and, to blink less often than usual.  These factors can lead to vision problems.  Additionally, computer use requires specific vision skills which add further demands to the visual system and contribute to eye and vision discomfort -- such as, a) the ability of the eyes to move invarious positions (ocular motility); the baility of the eyes to focus clearly at various distances (accommodation); and, the ability to move the eyes in (convergence) or out (divergence).  In essence, working with a computer creates various demands on our visual system.

As the month of March is "Save Your Vision" month, here are a few tips regarding "Healthy Vision at the Computer", as well as some of the factors that may affect your vision while using a computer.

  • Screen resolution - Better resolution offers greater clarity and usually leads to improved comfort.  Adjust the resolution to the highest resolution your monitor will support.  If the increased screen resolution makes items too small, try increasing the font size (DPI) to compensate.
  • Screen contrast - Adjust the contrast between the characters on the monitor and the background so the letters are easily read.  Adjust the brightness of the monitor to an intensity that is comfortable to your eyes -- not too bright, not too dim.  Adjust both brightness and contrast for the best clarity.
  • Screen glare and reflections - Minimize reflected glare on your monitor by using window treatments, dimmer switches on lights and glare reduction filters.  Look for glare reduction filters that have received the American Optometric Association (AOA) Seal of Acceptance.  Proper adjustment should eliminate any reflected images from the monitor screen.  To reduce glare, eliminate bright light sources from your peripheral vision and position your monitor perpendicular to windows or other bright light sources.
  • Image refresh rates and flicker - A higher refresh rate for your monitor is best.  The image on the screen should not flicker at all.  (This is not a concern with LCDs.)
  • Working distances and angles - It is important to work at a distance that is comfortable for you and where the image on the screen is clear.  Having to move your head to an awkward angle to see the screen clearly suggests that your prescription may need an adjustment.
  • General eyeglass prescription may not be adequate - Computers are usually further and higher than a typical reading task.  Glasses for most people wearing bifocals are not adjusted for this new distance or angle and, therefore, are often not adequate for using the computer.
  • Repetitive and stressful tasks - Difficult tasks are challenging.  Don't forget to take occasional breaks and let the eye look far away while resting.

There are many ways to promote "good vision and healthy eyes".  A good start is to schedule a comprehensive eye examination with your eye practitioner.   The University Eye Center (UEC), the College's clinic, uses the most up-to-date equipment and technology to diagnose and treat patients.  Regular comprehensive eye exams ensures that your eyes are healthy and provide you with the correct pair of eyeglasses or contact lens prescription (if necessary).   Be certain to inform your eye practitioner of all computer work you may do.  If you would like to schedule an appointment at the UEC, please call 212-938-4001.