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Computer Vision Syndrom
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Computer Vision Syndrom
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  Printed Words vs. Screen Words



The causes of computer eye monitor strain

By our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on the screen than they do to printed characters. Almost anyone who has ever tried to read lengthy, drawn out paragraphs while scrolling vertically down the screen can understand that this is far more difficult for the eyes than just reading regularly from a book or a page.

Healthy eyes can easily maintain focus on the printed page. Static print and moving print is just one of the factors that makes screen print that more stressful to the eyes. It’s understandably the paramount complaint heard from people working at home from a computer, from students and school pupils, and certainly from people working in offices, but there are many things workers and employers can do to reduce the symptoms of this computer affliction.

Visual quality differences

Another important difference between books and computers is the visual quality you get from each. Books and other printed reading materials usually use solid characters with various grades of edge-definition. Newspapers and other cheap materials are printed on poor quality paper with less-defined characters that don’t need much ink, while books are printed with very fine and distinct characters. Computer characters, on the other hand, don't have good contrast or well-defined edges. They are created with pixels, which are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward their edges. Therefor they may cause computer eye monitor strains and computer vision problems.

The general rule of the quality of monitor displays on the screen depends on three things: resolution, refresh rate and dot pitch. If these aren’t aligned for your comfort, it’s very difficult for our eyes to maintain focus and remain fixed onto the image. Our eyes drift out to a point called the "resting point of accommodation" or RPA for short, and then attempt to recover focus on the screen. This continuous flexing of the eyes' focusing muscles creates fatigue and the burning, tired-eyes, computer eye screen strain, feeling that is so common after long hours at the computer.

Resolution refers to a monitor's pixel density

The more pixels, the higher the level of detail and the higher the resolution the better. For example, an 800 x 600 resolution will show more detail than 640 x 480. In some instances, very high resolutions have an inadequate refresh rate, which refers to how often your monitor redraws the content on the screen. A too-low rate can be hard on your eyes, and a very slow rate causes a noticeable and irritating flicker. Ideally, your refresh rate should be 70 Hz (hertz) or higher. The last parameter, dot pitch, refers to the sharpness of the display; the lower the number, the sharper the image. You can find information about refresh rate, resolution and dot pitch in your monitor's manual. Some screens have a dot pitch between 0.25 mm (millimeters) and 0.28 mm; 0.28 or lower.

Some computer screens are built another way, and therefore list pitch as horizontal dot pitch or stripe pitch. These numbers are always lower than regular dot pitch; to compare, divide your number by 0.866 to get your monitor's equivalent of a regular dot pitch.

Some people also experience computer vision syndrome when they attempt to read printed pages after long exposure to the computer screen. Not only light sensitivity, but a phenomenon to recurring magnification and de-magnification of words and images. Your focusing abilities are damaged in general and this translates to printed material. This will improve with proper workstation conditions that will be discussed in length in the following chapters.

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