Reporter: Shannon Samson
After a day of sitting at her computer, Shalba Casillas notices her eyes burning and itching. She gets horrible headaches and the computer gets blurry. "In the morning, I started off, it would be fine and then within an hour, I could tell the difference. I was like right up on the computer screen 'cause I could not see it at all."
Optometrist David Shen says Shalba's problem is very common, called computer vision syndrome, and caused by staring at the computer all day. "We are looking at a visual target that is made up of very tiny dots that flicker at a certain rate. Unlike a very bold printed page, our eyes look at this and say, 'Should I focus here? Should I focus in front or behind or right at that area?'"
Dr. Shen says studies report as many as 75 percent of computer users experience eye strain. He says we blink more reading the computer and as our eyes age, they make fewer tears, adding to the strain.
To diagnose Shalba's problem, Dr Shen tests with a device that simulates a computer screen. "There is a certain amount of glare and contrast, kind of highlighting how the words look." He says there are also workplace concerns. "What is their lighting situation? Where is their window?"
Glasses specially designed for computer use can ease the problem and anti-glare lenses help too. So do eye drops. Shalba moved her monitor level with her eyes and added a special screen. "When I put my glasses on, everything is really clear." Which makes the work day a whole lot easier.
Contact lenses and laser eye surgery can also dry your eyes out and make them more fatigued.