Does Using Computers Ruin Your Eyes?

“I  had great vision until my 20s, when I started working on computers 40 hours a week. Now I can’t see a thing without my glasses.”

It’s a common refrain. But eye surgeon Dr. Richard Miller doesn’t buy it. Miller, of Miller Eye Center, 2995 Eastrock Drive, Rockford, says it’s just a variation on an old misconception.

“If you look in the past, people said that about everything,” he says. “Reading in dim light would ruin your eyes, watching too much TV would ruin your eyes. It can’t hurt the eyes.”

What’s happening, he adds, is that we use our eyes more today. When our vision declines during early adulthood, we simply notice it more.

“Four hundred years ago, most people didn’t even read that much. So you didn’t need to have sharp vision for that. Computers are a little harder to look at temporarily – it’s harder to look at a computer screen than it is a nice piece of paper. It’s not perfectly sharp. So your brain is saying, oh, it’s out of focus. Focus, focus.”

Miller agrees that looking at a computer screen for hours is more difficult than reading a book for the same amount of time, and it does indeed cause eye strain.

“But it doesn’t do any harm to the eye,” he says. “You go to bed, you wake up the next day and you’re back to normal.”

While the body stops growing in adulthood, the eyes’ lenses keep getting thicker and harder, he says. Far-sighted people usually see their vision level out in their early 20s. Not so for near-sighted people.

“You keep ending up getting thicker and thicker glasses,” Miller says. “But don’t blame computers. Near-sighted people were complaining about that 80 years ago, and there were no computers.” ❚