Optical tests of the quantum Zeno effect [W.M. Itano et al., Phys. Rev. A 41 (1990) 2295] are analyzed using the environment-induced decoherence theory, where the spontaneous emission lifetime of the relevant level emerges as the "decoherence time". The implication of this finite decoherence time in setting a fundamental limit on the realizability of continuous measurements is investigated in detail. © 1995.