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How does working on a computer all day affect my eyes?

Dr. Aaron P. Weingeist, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Working on computers or video display terminals (VDTs) will not permanently harm your eyes. However, when using a VDT for long periods of time, just as reading or doing other close work, you blink less than you normally would. This reduced rate of blinking makes your eyes dry, which may lead to the feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. It's worth reminding yourself to look away from the computer every 20 minutes or so to give your eyes a break. The target should be more than 10 feet away, and your break should last at least 20 seconds.

Looking at computer monitors will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a computer for long periods of time, just as when reading or doing other close work, you blink less often than normal. This reduced rate of blinking makes your eyes dry, which may lead to the feeling of eyestrain or fatigue.

Try to take regular breaks to look up or across the room. Looking at objects farther away often relieves the feeling of strain on your eyes. Keep the monitor between 18 to 24 inches from your face and at a slight downward angle. Also consider the use of artificial tears. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Consider adjusting your computer to help prevent eye fatigue. Set your computer lower on the table or use a portable computer so your eyes look down when you work. That way, the opening between the eyelids stays small, which reduces the risk of developing dry eyes.

You can also help relieve some irritation by changing your flicker rate on your computer to 70 or above.

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...
Dr. Laura C. Fine, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Although using a computer will not harm your eyes, staring at a computer screen all day will contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. Adjust lighting so that it does not create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen. Also, when you're working on a computer or doing other close work such as reading or sewing, it's a good idea to rest your eyes briefly every hour or so to lessen eye fatigue. Finally, people who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. Make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that the eyes stay well lubricated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.