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Is Your Computer Giving You Eye Pain? Find Ways to Get Relief Here

written by: cra8051 • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 6/26/2011

Anyone using a computer for any length of time probably experiences tired eyes, vision problems or an illness called computer vision syndrome. These conditions can affect old eyes, middle-aged eyes, and younger eyes, including children.

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    Computer Use and Eye Fatigue

    Frequent computer use and eye fatigue go hand in hand. With any length of PC use, eye strain is a natural occurrence. Recommendations to avoid this problem include:

    Using the right kind of lighting—full spectrum light bulbs help

    Minimizing glare

    Using monitors with the highest possible resolution

    Changing your focus from the computer screen to a distant object every 20 minutes or so

    Considering special prescriptions for computer use if you wear glasses.


    Even with the above aids, a full day working at a computer can still cause tired eyes and other vision problems. There is even a scientific name for eye fatigue, asthenopia. Symptoms are irritation and weakness of the eyes or poor accommodation—difficulty refocusing sharply when objects get closer to the eyes. The eyes can become very sensitive to glare or show poor depth perception, particularly when these problems get worse from morning to night.


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    Research Studies

    There is a special antioxidant that may help reduce or prevent the development of computer vision syndrome. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid antioxidant that has been found in clinical studies to prevent eyestrain. In one study of VDT users who were randomly assigned to take either 5 milligrams of astaxanthin or a placebo for one month, the treated group improved visual accommodation by 54 percent [1]. Neither group knew whether they were getting the antioxidant or the placebo.

    In other studies with this supplement using different doses, accommodation time was significantly shortened at both four milligram and 12 milligram levels. In a double-blind study with six milligrams a day of astaxanthin for four weeks accommodation improved and instances of tired eyes decreased. These results happened with no side effects [2].

    Volunteer athletes who took astaxanthin at a six milligram a day level found that depth perception improved by 46 percent. As a positive side effect, the buildup of lactic acid in muscles causing cramps and tiredness significantly decreased [3].


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    A Supplement for Your Eyes

    Those of a certain age doubtless remember being told by their parents to “Eat your carrots—it will help your eyesight.” This folk wisdom does have validity as far as preventing vision problems because of the beta-carotene in carrots. Now we know there are far better sources of carotenoids in existence. Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll, which is found in algae called Heamatoccus pluvialis. The substance is fat soluble and is attracted to cell membranes, which may be part of the mechanism by which it can maintain healthy eyes. The benefits of the substance may go beyond preventing tired eyes or the development of computer vision syndrome. Animal experiments suggest there may be a preventive effect on the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.

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