Help for Computer Users
(Real) Second Annual
For the Skeptics...
Believe it or not, it's NOT the computer that is causing you blurry vision or eyestrain (not to mention headaches, stiff neck or shoulders, etc), it's HOW you use your body in front of the computer. If you hold yourself in an awkward position, or stare at a fixed distance, stress can happen on the body and the eyes themselves. Kate Keilman (the current webmaster) had her best improvement while actually working on a computer programming contract with very stressful deadlines, working many hours a day, and weekends. What she learned about relaxing her eyes she applied to her whole body - relax, move, take deep breaths, move the whole head to look down the hallway.
Martin Sussman of the Cambridge Institute for Better Vision has a book called "Total Health at the Computer" - "In this user-friendly guide, you will learn how to prevent, reduce or eliminate the 40 most commonly experienced symptoms of Computer Stress Syndrome. Wrist, hand, arm, neck and back pains of all kinds are covered. So are vision problems - including eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches and deteriorating eyesight." See page on Books and Tapes...)
If you have a PC and need reminders to roll your shoulders, shake out your wrists, and stretch something, Stress Away Software is the answer! This program will pop up every 20 minutes or so (you can set the timing) with user friendly pictures and text with 25 different activities for head, shoulders, wrists, and especially your eyes! Designed by a computer programming Bates Instructor, this is a very useful program for anyone doing much computer work. Currently for Windows only, but Macintosh and Linux versions coming soon!
Sounds like something that might kill you? Just the opposite - glasses that will reduce those headaches! If you are nearsighted (your best vision is up close, things in the distance are blurry) and you wear glasses or contacts, they are correcting for the distance. A computer screen is typically a foot or two (maybe three) away from your face, making your regular lenses TOO STRONG! Get a pair of glasses that are a weaker prescription (maybe your last pair before you got new ones). If you are serious about reducing eyestrain, we (I/Kate, that is) recommends scrapping the contacts and going to glasses - you can take off glasses when not needed, giving your eyes a real rest (see page on Reduced Lenses). Many eye doctors are now prescribing an intermediate prescription just for computer work, sometimes called terminal glasses. Many people have tried them, and say they help reduce eyestrain, headaches and overall tension.
If you are farsighted (distance vision is ok, but up close is blurry), glasses you have for reading might be too strong also - many times people will hold a book or newspaper closer than the computer monitor is located. So ask your eye doctor to prescribe not for the usual reading distance, but a little further away (or if you are buying the reading glasses in the dime store, get a pair that give you enough correction, but not crystal clear at the distance of your computer screen).