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 Annual 2012

Annual 2012


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The Eyes Have It

Are Computers and Electronics Ruining Your Vision?

      If your computer screen has become a site for sore eyes, you’re not alone. The American Optometric Association says that as many as 70 million Americans who work on the computer for more than two hours a day suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.
      CVS is a term coined in 2005 that describes various symptoms that come from sitting in front of a computer or using a hand-held device such as an iPhone or iPad for hours every day. The most common symptoms of CVS are eye strain, dry or irritated eyes, fatigue and headaches.
      Hilary Bryan, a certified movement analyst and founder of The Body at Work (www.thebodyatwork.com), a Bay Area-based ergonomics training company, regularly works with individuals and corporate  employees who suffer from CVS.
      “We work with individuals at their desks to solve problems in work-station setup, posture and movement patterns to prevent CVS,” says Bryan, who addresses topics such as lighting, positioning the monitor in an ergonomically correct position and taking regular breaks from the computer screen to minimize eye strain.
      Bryan says one of the first things she does when meeting with a new client is to ensure his workstation is set up for comfortable computer use. This involves chair height and keyboard adjustments, as well as proper placement of the computer monitor and keyboard.
      “We focus on preventative strategies,” Bryan says. “Good workplace ergonomics can help your vision and also prevent related symptoms such
as headaches, neck, back and shoulder pain.”
      Dr. Richard Shugarman, an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent with the American Academy of
Ophthalmology, says that while there is no conclusive research that shows computers or smartphones can cause permanent vision problems, they can make your eyes feel dry and tired.
      “Offices tend to be dry environments, and when people are reading a computer screen, they tend to blink less,” Shugarman says. “To combat dry eyes, it’s important to take frequent breaks and keep artificial tears — lubricant eye drops — at your desk.”
      To prevent eyestrain, Shugarman also recommends:
      • Sitting about 25 inches away from your computer screen, with your screen positioned so that your eyes are focused slightly downward.
      • Taking regular breaks. Shugarman says it’s a good idea to leave your computer screen and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so.
     • Getting the right prescription.
If you are using the wrong prescription while using the computer, you are making your eyes work even harder. Usually, people with minimal vision problems can get an eye exam once every two years. If you do have vision problems, your optician may recommend seeing you yearly for a follow up. Shugarman doesn’t recommend bifocals for computer use since they force users to tilt their head back in order to focus on the screen and can result in neck or back pain. If you work on the computer for long periods of time, Shugarman recommends talking to your doctor about progressive lenses or separate computer glasses.
      • Adjusting the settings on your computer so you can see the text with ease. Also, make sure the brightness and contrast are adjusted for proper lighting.
      • Blinking. Shugarman says most people blink about five times less in front of a computer than they would regularly. If you have dry eyes, use artificial tears or blink several times in a row every 20 minutes to prevent eye strain.
     • Choosing the right glasses. Rather than relying on several different pairs of glasses, talk to your eye doctor about your work and lifestyle. Options such as anti-reflective, or AR, coating can cut down glare coming from the computer screen, overhead lights and windows that cause over-focusing, eyestrain and headaches. AR coating is also scratch proof. Also, check into the possibility of glasses that offer a UV or computer tint.

Don’t Let Your Office Become a Site for Sore Eyes

•    Cornell University offers an ergonomic checklist for arranging a computer workstation: www.ergo.human.cornell.edu/ergoguide.html.

•    Learn how to keep your eyes healthy at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website: www.geteyesmart.org.

•    Read more about computer vision syndrome, or CVS, at the American Optometric Association’s website:

How Many Pairs of Glasses Do You Really Need?

     The number of pairs of glasses you need is an individual decision and one which you should discuss with your ophthalmologist or optometrist. Factors such as your age, occupation and whether you have astigmatism should all factor into your decision.
      For Reading — Many people over the age of 40 suddenly find they need glasses for reading. If you need to wear glasses for distance, you can ask your doctor about progressive lenses (or no-line bifocals). For those who just need glasses for reading, drugstores offer over–the-counter reading glasses that most doctors believe are safe for people whose near vision is fading evenly in both eyes.
      For Outdoors — Many people who need to wear glasses opt to purchase transition lenses which automatically get darker when exposed to outdoor light. For some, who are particularly sensitive to light or are prone to migraines, non-transition sunglasses or clip-on shades may
provide a darker alternative. There are also a wide variety of sports sunglasses available with anti-glare and even sweat-proof features.
      For Computer Use — For people who spend a lot of time in front of their computer terminal, computer glasses are essential in preventing eye strain. Trifocals or bifocals have only a small portion of the lens dedicated for computer use, and many people find that using these lenses for computer work causes neck pain.


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