What the Yuck: Will staring at a computer make me blind?
August 26th, 2011
07:31 AM ET

What the Yuck: Will staring at a computer make me blind?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

I stare at my computer for at least 14 hours a day. Am I going to go blind?

Staring at a computer screen can certainly cause eyestrain and fatigue, but you won't go blind. Instead, your eyes may feel tired or you may get eye pain or headaches. And of course, squinting may lead to wrinkles.

There are a few things you can do to help your eyes out. Look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes or so to give your eyes a break. Just glance outside or down the hall for about 20 seconds; repeat that move throughout the day.

To minimize eye and neck pain, position your computer screen so it's slightly below eye level; the ideal distance between you and the screen is 20 to 28 inches. At that position, you shouldn't have to lean forward or strain your neck to see the screen. Adjust the location or angle of your computer screen so that there isn't any glare, or get an anti-glare filter. Glare on a screen makes your eyes have to work even harder.

Of course, it's important to see your eye doctor once a year to check for changes in your eyesight and update your glasses and contacts accordingly. Depending on your needs, he might even prescribe some reading glasses to use, particularly when you're working on the computer.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. Jake


    August 26, 2011 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KC

      YOU WIN!!

      August 26, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • Joe here in Colorado

      Only if your hand is down your pants at the time. Then yes, you will go blind. And grow hair on your palms.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Kouichi

      Hi I found your site by mistake when i was ncsrehiag Google for this issue, I have to say your site is really helpful I also love the theme, its amazing!. I dont have that much time to read all your post at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
  2. Ritchie

    I feel like I tackle this problem everyday. I'm a trader and I have to look at 3 computer screens flashing all sorts of information for a good 8 hours of the day. I once felt that my vision would deteriorate too. I'm glad you made this aware, since most everyone stares at some kind of electronic screen.

    August 26, 2011 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chd

      do palming everyday and possibly 2-3 times a day. 10 minutes each times. Please see this website for technique to palming. http://www.seeing.org/techniques/palming.htm

      August 26, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
  3. mnmomma56

    Staring at the computer screen can also contribute to dry eyes due to blinking less, which can actually make you think you're going blind. Make sure to blink often or use lubricating eyedrops when doing computer work.

    August 26, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Yes, its always a good idea to use lubrication.

      August 26, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
  4. Comical

    The answer is no. I have worked in the computer industry for 30 years. I started staring at CRT's in the early 1980's. I have done it EVERY single day for that 30 years. At work, home and even on vacation, as I haul laptops and portable devices on vacation. CRT's were way worse than LCD's could ever be, and I spent 25 of those years looking at CRT's. My vision is incredible. I have also done other things for those thirty years, and they didn't make me blind, either. 🙂

    August 26, 2011 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa

      I get tired of being told that its bad for my vision. Looking at a monitor all day doesn't bother me. It may bother other people, but I'm used to it.

      August 26, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
  5. Buster Bloodvessel

    Only if you google 'goatse.'

    August 26, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JS

    Computers do have an effect on vision–one's eyes have to continually refocus because pixels don't really create sharp images.

    August 26, 2011 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • whatever

      And you've probably noticed the millions of people who have already gone blind after many years of staring at them.

      August 26, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
    • Rog

      Of course their blindness COULDN'T have been attributed to another factor JS,,,

      August 26, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
  7. Osobien

    of the few things that will make you blind, staring at a computer is one of my least favorite. My fav cannot be listed. This is a family oriented site

    August 26, 2011 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason K

      It is? since when? Besides, who cares if you fire off a few knuckle children looking at the monitor every now and then?

      August 26, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  8. Pete

    There are other health risks to think about if you're sitting at a computer 14 hours a day.

    August 26, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mamiko

      12/07/2011 at 6:33 pmThis means that with online ectdauion the student has far greater responsibility for their own learning. No one will babysit you, or ensure that you are doing the required work; it is simply presented to you, and you are expected to be responsible for completing assignments and reviewing the information.

      October 14, 2012 at 01:49 | Report abuse |
  9. The straight skinny

    No, staring at a CRT will not make you blind. But playing with Mr. Johnson will.

    August 26, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Melissa

    If I'm not at work looking at a computer screen, I'm at home looking at a computer screen. I love computers. That being said, I rarely if ever have a problem when looking at a computer screen unless I'm already exhausted for some reason. And even then, I've only had a headache result maybe once or twice.

    Just like everything else, you get used to it.

    August 26, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. June Thomas

    Do pay attention to the advice about keeping your eyes lubricated. Use eye lubricant (artificial tears) and drink lots of water. Keep a bottle of water on your desk to make it easy.

    August 26, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. don garrow

    It all depends on you handle your mouse!

    August 26, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Allison

    Just remember to blink, don't stare and use lubricating eye drops. There's nothing worse than bad eye strain!

    August 26, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jean

    I've heard of so many people in their fifties and sixties having detached retinas–it has to be more than in the past because without the surgery they can do now the detachment can cause blindness and when I was a kid there weren't as many blind people in that age group as there are detached retinas now–so I'd wondered if it had anything to do with using computers.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SilentBoy741

      No, looking at computer screens won't give you detached retinas. Looking at other women will - especially if my girlfriend catches me doing it. Man, she's got a heck of a backswing!

      August 26, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I think it takes a short sharp shock to detach your retina.

      August 26, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • cj

      Jean, talk about facts please. Show me the facts not something you assume.

      August 30, 2011 at 09:28 | Report abuse |
  15. Oldcomputerguy

    I've been working at the computer since 1965 and it hsl not bxen a prblmn 4 meee, az u kan cee...lol...

    August 26, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joe here in Colorado

    Only if your hand is down your pants at the time. Then yes, you will go blind. And grow hair on your palms.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Dr. Kilpatience

    No, that screen isn't making you blind. But that cell phone *is* making you stupid.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Russ

    well looking like that he sure will.

    August 26, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bubba

    Lawrence Watt-Evans has been warning us for years that the monitors are turned up too bright. One day it will be like Day of the Triffids and we'll all be blind, and he'll come along on a dinosaur and lead us to the supermarkets.

    August 26, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. test

    you didn't mention the calcium builds up which may cause blindness or expensive scrapping surgery

    August 26, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Apul Maa'Deek-Aoud

    Nope but you'll grow hair on the palms of your hand.

    August 26, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ShannonH

    I know when I stare at the computer for a long time my eyes get dried out because I definitely know I am not blinking as much as I usually do. Therefore my lacrimal gland is producing far less tears to rehydrate my eyes. So, I was wondering if there was any vitamin or supplement that I could take that may help with this. So I checked the Natural Standard website and found that taking a Vitamin A supplement helps with dry eye. I found on the site that the World Health Organization recommends 200,000 IU if you are diagnosed with dry eye for three days. Or if just for maintenance, to take 10,000-20,000 IU daily for dry eye.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 13, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 25, 2012 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply


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  26. Kenneth Tessman

    Asthenopia (aesthenopia) or eye strain is an ophthalmological condition that manifests itself through nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, pain in or around the eyes, blurred vision, headache and occasional double vision. Symptoms often occur after reading, computer work, or other close activities that involve tedious visual tasks.-

    Make sure you visit our blog site as well

    March 4, 2013 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. theemeraldtabletweekly

    Should be recommended read for bloggers!

    I don't know how about others, but in between writing books, researching and writing for my website I spend a healthy portion of day staring at the screen. Or should I say unhealthy portion? 🙂
    Of course, investing in a quality screen can certainly make a difference too.

    Robert Jirda

    May 15, 2013 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • theemeraldtabletweekly

      Just an afterthought...

      It is remarkable how the comments under article such as this one seem to be adult oriented...

      Robert Jirda editor of Emerald Tablet Weekly

      May 15, 2013 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
  28. Lashanda Lisitano

    Digital devices may also be linked to eye fatigue because of a tendency to blink less often when staring at a computer screen. People usually blink about 18 times a minute. This naturally refreshes the eyes. But studies suggest that people only blink about half as often while using a computer or other digital device. This can result in dry, tired, itching, and burning eyes.:;..,

    See ya soon

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