©October 14, 2004
Bio-Logic Aqua Technologies Biomedical Research/Education Division
New Discoveries About CEI
What is it? What to do about it?
Computers and Your Eyes.
It happens to all “computer dependent” people (which is getting to be just about everybody). You’ve been working at your computer for hours and your eyes gradually begin bothering you. The distraction could cost you money, productivity and, eventually, your visual health. Ophthalmologists are encountering this problem more and more. They have named it “Computer Eye Irritation” or “C.E.I.”, also called “Computer Vision Syndrome” or “C.V.S.”.
A CEI Quiz
- Do you use a computer more than two hours a day?
- Do your eyes sometimes burn or itch?
- Are your eyes sometimes sensitive to light?
- Does your vision ever become blurry?
- Do your eyelids frequently become heavy or tired?
- Do you get headaches from using the computer?
- Do your shoulders sometimes feel tight while using the computer?
- Do you have frequent eye allergies?
If you answered “yes” to question #1 and at least two others, you may be experiencing CEI.
Environmental causes of CEI:
In addition to the intense light of the computer monitor, research is discovering that several other common office conditions may result in dry, irritated eyes:
- Forced-air heating and cooling.
- Synthetic chemicals (plastics, paint, cleaning fluids, etc).
- Insulated windows and walls.
- Fluorescent lighting.
- Low indoor humidity.
Dry, irritated eyes.
The environmental stresses just described all result in a slight increase in moisture (water) evaporation from the delicate TEAR FILM covering the eye’s exposed portions. The tear film, though only about five microns (millionths of a meter) thick, is amazingly complex. It consists of:
- Lipid layer. This topmost layer is comprised of a very thin film of fatty oil that lubricates the eyelid and slows moisture evaporation from the lower layers.
- Aqueous layer. The middle and thickest layer contains the vast majority of the tear film’s moisture. Obviously, this is where most moisture loss occurs. The layer also contains electrolytes, proteins and bacteria-fighting antibodies. It provides oxygenated water to the cornea.
- Mucin layer. This bottom layer consists of mucus that glues the tear film to the optical surface.
The most physically irritating results of tear film moisture loss are an over-concentration of electrolyte (salt) and proteins in the aqueous layer. The results are itching, burning, eye-strain and other symptoms. Insufficient oxygen in the aqueous layer’s moisture can also cause discomfort.
Soothing dry irritated eyes.
Soothing dry, irritated eyes is simple and logical: Simply add moisture to the tear film!
In the past 110 years of medical research, this has proved more easily said than done. Traditional formulated eyedrops can be of some benefit as a moisture sealer, but they can be inconvenient to apply and aren’t always effective. The chemicals and preservatives cause an allergic reaction and they may be safely applied only a few times a day. Instead of working naturally to augment and replenish tear film moisture, the large-drop application can flood and wash away the tear film, including protective antibodies, replacing it with artificial chemicals.
Nature’s Tears EyeMist.
The best way to prevent or keep eyes moist and minimize CEI discomfort is to mist your eyes with Nature’s Tears EyeMist whenever discomfort is felt. The unique moisture-mist provides the correct pH balance, mineral content and osmolarity to penetrate to the tear film’s aqueous layer in just the right amount; without flooding. Even if you continue using regular eyedrops, they will become more effective as a moisture sealer (to help decrease moisture film evaporation), if you apply Nature’s Tears EyeMist first. Because Nature’s Tears EyeMist has no dosage limit, you may also apply the mist between eyedrop applications, or as a stand-alone whenever ocular discomfort is felt.
Additional tips on minimizing or preventing CEI:
- An eye care professional may be able to prescribe special “computer glasses.”
- Keep a glass of water near your desk to help humidify the air.
- Sip bottled water while you work…but pour it into a glass before drinking.
- Make a conscious effort to blink more often (especially if you tend to stare at the screen for long periods). Tape a reminder to the computer if necessary.
- Several times per hour, look around the room at objects of varying distances from the computer.
- Take scheduled breaks away from your desk (outdoors if possible, to help reduce stress).
- To reduce glare, position your computer so windows are at the side of your computer rather than in front or back.
- Adjust window blinds so that sunlight is away from your screen and eyes.
- If possible, turn off overhead lights that are too bright or switch to a lower wattage bulb or a desk lamp.
- Attach a glare-blocking hood or filter to your monitor. They can be found at most computer and office supply stores.
- Crack a window to let in humid air from the outside. Outdoor air is free of re-circulated bacteria and shed skin particles from co-workers, which enters via the heating/cooling system and are dehydrating to eyes and skin.
- Set the REFRESH RATE on your monitor as high as you can (over 85 is best). Use a flat-screen if possible. A low refresh rate (60 or less), on a cathode ray monitor, can cause eyestrain and headache. For Windows PC, right click on the opening screen (no programs running), then go to “properties-settings-advanced-monitor.”
- Take long, luxuriant showers every day that allow plenty of steam and moisture to penetrate your eyes, skin, breathing passages and lungs.
- Every couple weeks, take a hot body bath with a cup of Epsom salt dissolved in the bathtub water. This will benefit all parts of your body, including the skin, the eyelids, the skin around the eyes and the eyes.