Common sense at computer soothes eyes
We've all heard the complaint or something like it: “I've been staring at the screen all day. My eyes hurt.” But is it really the screen's fault? (And if so, is there any long- or short-term damage?) Would our eyes be any better off perusing printed pages all day?
Yes, you can blame the screen, but not for everything. Some of the same eye-care advice you'll hear for computer screens applies to bookworms, too.
Screen-induced eye strain has an official name, if not a surprising one: computer vision syndrome. The term emerged about 20 years ago and describes a host of bothersome symptoms, including eye fatigue, burning and itchy eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light. People who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer every day are at greatest risk for developing the syndrome, according to the American Optometric Association.
For most people, symptom treatment is enough — managing their reading position, taking rest breaks or using eye drops to relieve dry eyes. That said, dry and irritated eyes are associated with disorders of the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye. See a doctor if you're putting drops in your eyes five or six times a day and still feel like they're dry, says James Salz, a University of Southern California eye doctor and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Still, he adds, “there's no evidence that there's any long-term damage from reading on a screen.”
A small 2013 study found that when reading print on paper or e-ink (the technology that attempts to replicate as closely as possible the printed page experience, Kindle paperwhite in this study), the subjects — 12 men who read for at least an hour on each device — blinked more often when reading on paper or e-ink than they did when looking at an LCD screen (a tablet with its own light supply, the Kindle Fire here).
The good thing about electronic reading is that you can change so many things to make the experience more comfortable, such as increasing the size of the text and fiddling with the brightness, which can also help you keep the words at a distance. Salz says 18 inches is ideal.
Common sense goes a long way too, Salz says. “As soon as you feel fatigue, look away.”
Indeed, workplace advice for people who read on computers for a large part of their days, comes in the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kentucky clerk invokes ‘God’s authority,’ still refuses gay marriage licenses
- Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
- Gas boom brings successes, struggles to W.Va. communities
- Less sleep increases your chance of catching a cold, researchers say
- Russia, China ply cyberdata to exploit U.S. spies
- Lost hiker survived 9 days with broken leg in California’s Sierra Nevada
- Supreme Court rules against Kentucky county clerk on gay marriage licenses
- FDA approves female sex pill, but with safety limits
- Tourists unfazed by Hawaiian water alert
- Virginia reporter, cameraman killed on air; gunman also dies
- Compatibility of 1st-responder radios in doubt