University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Hansjoerg Kolder MD, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology & Visual Science
First Published: 2000
Last Revised: February 2004
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Millions of Americans spend the bulk of their workday staring at a
computer screen, and many wonder if that activity is harmful to their
eyes. Not if you take precautions, says Dr. Hansjoerg Kolder,
professor emeritus of ophthalmology at the University of Iowa College
of Medicine and staff physician at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Kolder
is a specialist in the eye's sensory physiology and often sees
patients who complain of eye strain that may be computer-related.
One of the most common complaints is eye fatigue, Kolder says. A
simple way to prevent that fatigue is to close your eyes for 20 to 30
seconds every 10 to 15 minutes. You can also cut down on eye strain
by attaching an anti-glare screen to older monitors.
Computer users do not have to worry about significant
electromagnetic radiation being emitted from their screens unless
their computer screen is faulty or more than 20 years old. Nor should
users fear cataracts. "There is not enough evidence to substantiate
the presumption that computers cause cataracts," Kolder says.
Trouble seeing the computer can trigger pains in other areas, such
as the neck. People with bifocal glasses are especially prone to neck
aches because they may have to tilt their heads back to see things up
close. Working glasses are available to alleviate that problem,
Kolder says. These are like reading glasses but the prescription is
for the preferred distance from the computer screen to the eyes.
Another way to avoid neck strain is to make sure your eyes are level
with or slightly above the computer screen. You can also prevent
postural problems and other aches by centering your keyboard under
your computer screen, he adds.