Surprisingly, survey reveals younger Oregonians at greatest risk of eye-strain from computer use
Portland, Ore. – How many hours a day do you spend on a computer? If you’re like most Oregonians, you average at least three hours per day in front of the screen, according to a survey conducted by Riley Research Associates. The survey, sponsored by the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association, also asked Oregonians where they use the computer most. Nearly half of all respondents said they use the computer at home, with one in seven using it equally at home and on the job or elsewhere.
“As a society, we’re spending more and more time in front of the computer screen,” said Dr. Jim Hale, Corvallis optometric physician. “With that increased time comes increased risk of eye strain, the symptoms of which are felt by young and old alike.”
The phone survey, which questioned 396 randomly selected Oregonians in January, revealed one-third of respondents experienced eye strain or discomfort, including difficulty focusing or blurriness, while using the computer. “This is consistent with previous national surveys”, said Dr. Jim Sheedy, dean of Pacific University College of Optometry and recognized expert on Computer Vision Syndrome.
Younger respondents, those ages 18-44, reported such symptoms more frequently than older respondents. Symptoms included headaches, double vision, excessive tears, dry eyes, eye pain and/or excessive blinking or squinting.
Dr. Sheedy, who has established special eye clinics for computer users, notes that, “Sometimes the symptoms are the result of weakness in the visual system, sometimes the result of environmental or workplace factors, and often a combination of both.”
When asked what could be done to lessen or minimize eyestrain, most respondents said they could limit their time on the computer, get a larger screen, look away frequently or exercise their eyes. “These are all valid things a person can do to reduce the computer’s negative effects on their eyesight,” added Dr. Hale, “but there are many more easy steps to help as well.”
The Oregon Optometric Physicians Association recommends the following additional tips:
Although the survey concluded that younger respondents were the group most likely to experience eye strain, only 34 percent reported wearing glasses or contacts while on the computer, compared to 76 percent of those respondents age 65 and older.
Another common problem for older computer users is that typical bifocals or progressive lenses often require an awkward posture in order to see clearly, causing neck and back pain. In these cases, an optometric physician can provide glasses that enable you to see clearly and maintain good posture.
For more information on computer eye strain or how to curb it, visit www.oregonoptometry.org.
About the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association
The Oregon Optometric Physicians Association is a statewide organization comprised of Doctors of Optometry, college of optometry faculty, optometric students and industry-related associates. It advocates advancing the quality, availability and accessibility of eye, vision and related health care. It also works to represent the profession of optometry, to enhance and promote the independent and ethical decision making of its members, and to assist optometric physicians in practicing the highest standards of patient care. Based in Milwaukie, Oregon, the OOPA has nearly 400 members. For more information, visit www.oregonoptometry.org.