Computers aren’t going anywhere, but eye strain is becoming more and more of a complaint all the time. At work, over fifty percent of those who work on a computer report vision disturbances. This can be anything from chronic dry eye to eye twitches due to fatigue. The end result is the same with an increase in errors and a decrease in productivity.
There are ways to cope with the stresses put on your eyes on a daily basis. These methods are useful in reducing risks and symptoms of computer vision syndrome, or CVS.
1. Regular comprehensive eye exams
Routine eye care is the best way to prevent and treat computer vision problems. If it has been over a year since you had an eye exam, schedule one now. Even if there is nothing physically wrong with your eyes, it is good to have a baseline for your normal.
The best thing to do for your eye health is to get an exam prior to starting a job involving a computer. Once a year afterwards, get checked again to make sure nothing has changed. Make your doctor aware of your computer use at work and play. Have information such as the distance your computer is from your eyes available as this may help the eye doctor in any diagnosis.
2. Proper lighting is important
Excessively bright light, regardless of the source can cause your eyes to strain unnecessarily. Offices typically keep their offices twice as bright as the optimal lighting for computer use. Whenever possible, there are easy ways to limit the amount of light in your space.
- Eliminate exterior light by using things such as curtains, blinds, and shades.
- Indoor light can be minimized by lowering the intensity of the bulbs and tubes in use.
- Re-position your monitor so that windows are off to the side, not behind or in front of the monitor.
- Avoid working directly under lights as much as possible. For example: turning off overhead lights and using floor lamps.
3. Minimize glare
Glare can come from unexpected places, such as walls. An anti-glare screen for your monitor and painting bright walls a darker, matte color can cut down on some glare. Window coverings are going to be your friend here. If you can’t reduce the light, investing in a computer hood may help. When purchasing glasses, always spring for the anti-reflective coating if it isn’t included.
4. Upgrade your display
Liquid Crystal Displays are not just for laptops anymore. Old school tube style monitors can flicker and cause eye strain. LCD’s are a bit more stable and typically have an anti-reflective surface. If you have no choice for your work computer, set the monitor to the maximum refresh rate. If you are choosing a flat screen, spring for the highest resolution possible. Also, choose a larger display to reduce eye strain.
5. Adjust your computer’s display settings
Display settings can get complicated, but there are basic changes that you can make to combat eye fatigue.
- Brightness- The display should be about as bright as your work space. Your computer should not be a light source.
- Text contrast and size- Typically, black print on a white background is easiest on the eyes. If you are forced to read from a display that is causing you to strain, try pasting the text into a word document if possible.
- Color temperature- Blue light is emitted by almost every electronic display. Without getting into a lot of detail, it can cause sleep disruptions at night and is a huge eye strain culprit. While some laptops and desktops lack this feature, there is a really great display setting that allows you to choose warmer colors. This should reduce eye strain.
6. Remember to blink
Blinking serves an important function for our eyes. It is what moistens the eye, preventing irritation and dryness. People tend to blink less when working at a computer. Blinking more and asking your eye doctor about artificial tears are the best way to combat this. Your eye doctor may be able to advise you on the best eye drop for your situation. They also have the best coupons.
7. Exercise your eyes
This may sound strange, but eye exercise is a good way to avoid focusing fatigue.
- 20-20-20 Rule- Look away from your computer every twenty minutes to look at an object twenty feet away. Do this for twenty seconds. This allows the focusing muscle in your eyes to relax and prevent your eyes from getting tired as quickly.
- Another exercise is to look at an object far away for 10-15 seconds, then look at something close up for 10-15 seconds. Do ten reps. This reduces the risk of your eyes “locking up”. This condition is referred to as accommodation spasm and occurs after long spurts in front of a screen.
8. Take frequent breaks
To reduce most negative aspects of regular computer use, take plenty of breaks. This will help your eyes, neck, back and shoulders. While two fifteen minute breaks are the “norm”, four additional five-minute rest periods will be better. These breaks should include a good stretch of your body. You can look up sequences of “office workouts” that you can squeeze in throughout your day. Set reminders if you need to.
9. Modify your work routine
If you are constantly looking back and forth between a hard copy and your computer screen, putting the hard copy on a copy stand can help. By eliminating the simple act of looking down at the copy, you are eliminating eye strain. Proper placement and lighting of the stand are important and you can make adjustments until you get it just right.
Those shoulder stretches and incognito exercises should be helping your posture. Look up simple ways to do this on your commute and at home.
10. Consider computer eye-wear
There is a lens that can help to protect your eyes from that pesky blue light. If you wear glasses, talk to your optician about putting the prescription into a pair of computer glasses.
Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Get excellent service on a comprehensive eye care
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364