Computer usage linked to eye problems

By Michelle Esposito

Local experts said they agree with a national study which links computer screens and eye problems.

A recent study done by the American Optometric Association (AOA) reveals about eight million people a year suffer from eyestrain caused by the widespread use of Video Display Terminals (VDTs).

According to the study, other VDT-related symptoms include headaches and blurred vision.

Local eye doctors said they have treated people with these symptoms and gave reasons for the VDT-eye strain association.

To begin with, “40 percent of the population is nearsighted,” said Dr. Donald Helms of Sycamore. Human eyes are not used to looking at small things, Helms added.

Staring at a computer screen all day doesn’t help eyes that are already affected, said Dr. Jay Ebbesen of DeKalb Optometric Associates.

Rodney Angotti, chair of the computer science department, said none of his faculty, staff or students have complained about any of these VDT-related symptoms.

“It’s important to keep good quality equipment for students, staff and faculty to use to minimize these complaints,” Angotti said.

As for the future, Angotti said technology is constantly improving to help minimize the vision problems.

If you already have a vision problem and constantly work on VDTs, there are special eye prescriptions available.

Ebbesen said taking breaks once in awhile to get away from the computer screen is also helpful. “Just get up and walk around to relax the eyes,” he said.

Other ways of minimizing or preventing the symptoms include using anti-glare reflectors for the computer monitor or improving the type of monitor.

The best one out is the Super VGA color monitor,” said Lisa Hansen of MicroAge Computers in DeKalb.

A common sense tip for the video game player is not to sit too close to the screen, Ebbesen said. Sitting too close leads to a straining of the eyes which can cause nearsightedness, he added.