Z88.3 asked me to come to the station and talk about whether or not looking at computer screens all day can damage your eyes. There was an article in USA Today that implied eye health could be compromised by the screen light. Ironically, I didn't see the email or the article because I can't read a thing on my computer screen because I have three layers of protective screen shields on my monitor. Plus, I wear very heavy glass goggles and lead blankets, like the ones they put on you during X-rays at the dentist, when facing a computer. Once a co-worker told me about the email, I did some research and found that I had overestimated the amount of dangerous radiation coming from computer monitors. By no less than 100%! I was relieved. Then I thought I should learn to be less sarcastic before going on air at Z88.
If you're reading this from some other state than Florida, Z88.3 is our local "Positive Hits" station. It's the most popular station in Orlando because people like to know they can listen to it with their kids in the car and not worry about what they'll hear, and because people like to be happy and encouraged. And that's what the Z genuinely offers listeners. It's a wonderful thing. Part of the reason that I was pumped about a chance to talk about "Computer Vision Syndrome,"* is that I might be able to give people one less thing to worry about. If you wonder why I put that in quotes, I wrote a little bit about why people shouldn't stress over looking at computers at the end of this blog.
Overall, the experience of going to a radio station to be on the radio was not as stressful as it seems like it should be. Most of that was because Tyler and Tracy (Ellis was out) are two of the nicest people I've ever met. As they interviewed me about eyes, they just had a conversation with me as if there weren't giant microphones in front of us. Knowing that this conversation was being broadcast to more people than I talk to in a year, however, is still pretty hard to forget. I talk about vision around 12 hours a day, so that part was fun and felt natural. But also there was a different part of my brain shouting, "What is happening?! Why are we ignoring these huge microphones?! Oh man, these microphones are huge and your voice is weird!" Once I listened to it later and heard that I didn't say any of those things out loud, I felt good about the whole thing.
*Computer Vision Syndrome is a somewhat made-up name for the natural eye fatigue caused by concentrating on something up close for a long period of time. You blink less and your eyes get dry when you concentrate. You also use eye muscles to focus up close and those muscles get (temporarily) tired. Using high-quality artificial tears, and taking a break to look across the room for a minute every now and then can eradicate Computer Vision Syndrome globally. If you're 40 or older, a pair of reading glasses might help make the computer screen a little less of a strain, but this is because you are reading, not because it's a screen. Everything we see is because photons of light are flying into our eyes from the objects we are seeing, whether that is a computer screen or moonlit walk on the beach. The amount and intensity of photons needed to cause damage to the eyes is huge, and we usually see it from arc welding or people who stare at the sun through binoculars. UV light (which everyone who has been outside has been exposed to) is high energy light that can cause longterm eye problems. Since we know long-term damage like macular degeneration increases with age, it is good to wear sunglasses when you're outside to block UV light. But the amount of UV light emitted from a computer screen is 0%. That's not rounding down from 0.0001% or something, it is actually 0%.