It has been stunning how many people have been in contact over the past several weeks seeking solutions to virus woes. Almost without exception, the viruses prompting the tide of mail were Melissa and then CIH. Also, almost everyone either did not have an up-to-date anti-virus program, or worse, did not have anti-virus software at all. In cyberspace, the Internet puts you at huge risk from computer viruses, yet far too few people seem to pay attention to adequate protection. Coming down with CIH or Melissa can be every bit a painful experience if you have vital data on your computer - as has been the case with a good percentage of correspondents. Anti-virus software is not expensive when compared with the damage a virus such as CIH can cause. Buy the software and set it up immediately. Programs such as PC-cillin, F-Prot, McAfee, and Norton Anti-virus are easily affordable. They may not offer 100 per cent protection, but with the help of almost continuously updated virus signatures on their Web sites, their coverage is good. Every computer sold should come with a huge 'Update your anti-virus software at least once a week!' red warning label plastered over the box. Any worthwhile anti-virus program will allow for systems to be set up to update your virus signatures automatically and regularly. In my office, systems are set up to update their signatures every day during lunch hour, and then scan the computers. But then, we have a leased line. At home, you can set your system to dial up the Internet automatically and update virus signatures from your anti-virus provider's Web site. Do so at least once a week, and check the results of each scan. You will be surprised at the number of viruses - mostly benign, but some quite serious - you get if you receive files regularly by e-mail. I use my computer for at least eight hours every day, and have been doing so for the past three years. In the past few months, I have noticed my eyesight worsening. I am unable to read from a distance, but what is causing most concern is that I am unable to sit in front of a computer for more than 15 minutes before my eyes start aching and sometimes even watering. I purchased a filter for my monitor, but it did not help. I also have made sure that there is no glare on the screen, but nothing I do seem to work. What could be causing this problem, and under what conditions should a monitor be viewed? Are there any steps which could be taken to prevent this condition? NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED After spending just about the same amount of time a day in front of a computer almost every working day for the past 12 years, I can sympathise with you. It is rather hard to run through all the various possible causes of computer-related eye-strain, but there is a list of links to eye strain-related articles and Web sites at my Web site at www.itdaily.com for your reference. Simply go to the site and click on the headline 'Eye strain - what causes it and how to prevent it' down the bottom of the page. A few points in brief: Keep your monitor clean. Avoid working in a room with fluorescent lighting. Sit so your eyes are about 60 centimetres away from the screen. Keep glare to a minimum. Have your monitor checked to ensure there is a minimum of flicker, which can be imperceptible still a problem. Take a five-minute screen break at least once an hour, more often if you feel your eyes need it. In your case, taking a break every 15 minutes may hit work, but you should do it anyway until the exact problem with your eyes is identified and remedied. See a qualified eye specialist as soon as possible. The cause of your eye-strain may have as much to do with deteriorating eye-sight as with computer usage. In 1989, I began suffering with severe headaches and sore eyes that I at first put down to computer-related eye strain. However, weeks - and many visits to general practitioners and eye doctors - later, it was found that the problem was caused by blocked sinuses and had little to do with the sorry excuse for a computer I used at the time.