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Ophthalmologists promote proper eye health

April E. Clark

Romance may be in the air in February, but workers who can’t take their eyes off their computers may have a change of heart come March.As part of Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month and Save Your Vision Month, ophthalmologists will promote proper eye health and educate patients about such conditions as computer vision syndrome, caused by computer screens not providing as much contrast as printed text (see box).”CVS can cause eye strain and fatigue, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, and eyes that burn or are sensitive to light,” said Dr. Bill Hoover of Valley Vision Clinic in Glenwood Springs. “Or the person may need computer glasses to help them function or lenses that have anti-reflection coatings to reduce glare.”Although Dr. Hoover said CVS is common in people who use a computer more than five hours per day, it is not inevitable. He said the likelihood of developing the condition could be found in genes inherited from Mom and Dad.”When we get nearsighted, there’s a genetic side to it,” he said. “Also, as we get older – between 40 and 45 – we may develop presbyopia, when the lens inside the eye doesn’t want to do the focusing. This is what requires us to have reading glasses.” Dr. Eric Strautman of 20/20 Eye Care in Glenwood Springs agrees that bloodlines play a role in the development of nearsightedness caused by CVS.”There seems to be a genetic pre-disposition to becoming nearsighted and having headaches. A little bit of it is how you’re wired.”He explained that the eye was not meant to endure the harmful effects of the computer screen.”The way the eye is created, when a person is looking into the distance, the eye is relaxing,” said Dr. Eric Strautman of 20/20 Eye Care in Glenwood Springs. “When someone is looking at a computer, the eye is like a contracting muscle. It can make distance vision worse.”A suggestion Dr. Strautman offers for computer users is a technology that is not only functional and better on the eyes, but looks good at the ol’ work station.”One of the things that can help with CVS is the emergence of flat screen monitors,” he said. “You are a little less prone to eye strain with a screen.”Dr. Hoover agrees, especially with a larger monitor.”There is more detail on the screen,” he said. “And there is definitely less glare.”For many patients in Colorado, what happens outside can be as problematic as what takes place inside offices and homes. Dr. Strautman said the state’s altitude and dryness in the air decrease the eye’s tolerance, especially in contact lens users.”Colorado is ranked at as of the worst places for wearing contact lenses,” he said. “A lot of people are so active in skiing and kayaking here that they opt for Lasik surgery.”Dr. Strautman recommends Lasik surgery, which can cost between $1,500 and $1,900, for older adults who have a more established prescription that rarely changes.”A person in his or her 40s is the best candidate,” he said. “For the majority of people, the surgery is permanent.”Too bad staring at the computer for eight hours a day has to leave such a mark.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518, aclark@postindependent.com


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