Most busy professionals are required to use a computer everyday as part of their job descriptions. However, day in and day out of
staring at computer screen can cause serious and sometimes long lasting damage to your vision. If you are someone who can’t avoid using a computer at work for long durations of time you need to know how to prevent computer eye strain.
Having personally struggled with computer eye strain, that started off as just a nagging problem while I was still in college, I attributed the symptoms to studying too long on the computer and not sleeping enough. However, as the years have passed suddenly that small irritation morphed into headaches, blurry vision, and sore eyes. It got to the point where I had to squint myself through my DMV vision test because I was too proud to buy a pair of glasses and realize that all my time on the computer was causing damage to my health.
Well, now that I spend a considerable amount of my time, blogging, on my computer, I finally have overcome my pride, and I have done a fair amount of research into 1. what actually causes computer eye strain 2. how to reduce it’s effects 3. products or available tools on the market that could reduce computer eye strain. In this article I will share what I have learned to overcome computer eye strain.
So instead of squinting your way through your next eye exam, do yourself a favor, and take a little time to get your vision in optimal health.
What Causes Computer Eye Strain?
Well the name itself, ‘Computer Eye Strain’ or more formally known as ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ is pretty self explanatory, but the actual physiology as to why computers cause our eyes to become strained is a little more complex.
Similar to other injuries that are caused by doing the same movement over and over, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, a similar effect happens to our eyes when staring at a computer too long. This is due to the fact that on a computer screen, unlike a book or piece of paper, has glare, can flicker, and has different contrasts on the screen. Also adjusting your field of vision from the screen, to the keyboard, and then to something else on your desk can make it difficult on your eyes to keep adjusting between different distances within a short period of time.
The effects of computer eye strain can be even worse if you are over 40. This is because as we age, our ability to effectively focus on objects that are either far away or near decreases. This is due to the fact after about age 40 because the eye lens becomes less flexible.
Symptoms of Computer Eye Strain
If you have any of the following symptoms you may be suffering from computer eye strain:
- Blurred vision
- Dry, red eyes
- Pain in your neck or back
- Double vision
- Irritated eyes
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms keep reading to learn how to prevent computer eye strain and alleviate your symptoms.
Different Ways to Prevent Computer Eye Strain
- Reduce the Glare- one of the best ways to reduce the strain on your eyes is to reduce the glare on your screen. If there is light on your desk giving off glare turn the lamp or your monitor to reduce the glare. Or if a window is open close the blinds or again turn your monitor. If you work underneath bright overhead lights and you have a compassionate boss, ask for a dimmer to be put on. If all the above fail, you may want to consider investing in a anti-glare protective filter that you can put on the screen of you computer.
- Optimize your chair and computer’s position- ideally you should be 20-28 inches away from your computer screen. If you are one of those people whose nose touches the screen, move your chair back or your computer forward!
- Utilize a paper stand– if you are often required to transcribe or summarize notes from a piece of paper and type them out, do not put the paper flat on the desk and keeping looking from the paper to your screen. This makes it very difficult for your eyes to keep adjusting the focus distance and can cause a lot of undue strain. Either prop the piece of paper up so it is next to the computer or try using a stand or mini easel.
- Unglue your eyes from the screen- if you find you are the type of person who could easily stare at the computer in an hour long trance without looking away this tip is for you! Ideally every 20 minutes or less you should look away from your computer, either out the window (if you have one), or look around the office. Remember to blink often or close your eyes for a second to keep your eyes moist.
- Change the settings- play around with the brightness, contrast, and the font/ zoom size until you find the most comfortable settings for your eyes. Just because the computer has “standard” settings, does not mean that they are the best settings for your eyes.
- Consider getting glasses- if you find that you still struggle even after trying suggestions 1-5 it may be time to see the optometrist and possibly get some prescription or computer glasses. Although if you do not have insurance or a vision plan and can’t afford a visit or expensive glasses, you may want to try out some reasonably priced over the counter computer glasses.
Please comment and let us know if you struggle or have struggled with computer eye strain and how you overcame it! Also if you enjoyed this article please feel free to share it with social media friends and family!
WebMD. (2016). Computer Vision Syndrome. [online] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome?page=3 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2016].