For most people, computer eye strain eye discomfort, headache and vision problems from viewing digital screens for extended periods is a fact of life. Other symptoms of too much time spent staring at digital screens include eye twitching and red eyes. The Vision Council has found that 59 percent of people who routinely use digital devices symptoms of computer eye strain (also called digital eye strain).
The amount of time you spend staring at a computer screen can affect your eyes and worsen dry eye symptoms. But work commitment may often prohibit you from limiting the time you need to spend in front of a computer.
Activities that demand intense concentration can result in eyestrain and dryness. The brightness of the monitor reflecting onto your eyes can also contribute to dry and tired eyes. By the end of your workday, you may find you’re squinting to see what you could previously see more easily.
Signs that you may have computer vision syndrome, which is also known as digital eyestrain, include:
- blurry vision
- dry, itchy and irritated eyes
- Eye strain and fatigue
- Redness in the eyes
- Difficulty in focusing
- Gradual deterioration of vision
- Increased light sensitivity
- Double vision
- neck and shoulder pain
It’s highly recommended by doctors and specialists everywhere that we limit our screen time. In this digital age, this grows increasingly difficult as we have iPads, smartphones, and laptops. Most of our work and peace time is now all on a screen which is only worsening our eyesight and health. That’s why it’s important to look into ways we can get our work done and enjoy all of todays’ technology and smart devices without compromising our vision and overall condition. So, on that note, consider these 12 tips to get rid of eye strain from computer use.
- Adjust the Brightness
Eye strain from computer use or any screen use can be helped by adjusting the brightness setting of your monitor. Monitors set to low brightness can cause fatigue as you strain your eyes to focus. With a brighter setting, you will reduce the flicker rate and constrict your pupils so that it is easier to focus.
This is very important for minimising eye strain and eye fatigue. Modify the display setting of the monitor. This will help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Change the brightness of the display so that the brightness of your display is same as the surrounding workstation. Also, when you are reading long documents on a computer, modify them so that while reading, you have black print on a white background. This will help reduce eye strain and fatigue
- Maintain your digital distance
Find a comfortable working distance from your screen. This is especially important for children since the intensity of light increases exponentially the closer our eyes are to the source. Children should hold devices as far away from their eyes as is comfortable. Adults are encouraged to hold devices at arm’s length.
With small devices, our screens are positioned far too close to our faces, which is not ideal for viewing purposes. It’s recommended to stick to a minimum distance of 20 inches between your face and the screen for optimal viewing. It is also important to position the middle of the screen at an appropriate height, about 5 inches below eye-level. This will ensure your comfort as well as reduce eye strain.
- Minimize Glare
The glare of the screen is one of the most common factors resulting in eye strain and computer vision syndrome (CVS). It’s also extremely distracting and an unnecessary issue. To avoid or reduce the impact of the glare, keep your screen clean at all times, close the drapes near your computer desk, or consider investing in anti-glare products such as anti-glare screens. One of the best ways to reduce the glare is to invest in blue light blocking tools.
Blue light from computer, phone, and iPad screens is known to induce poor sleep which has only aggravated since the pandemic as screen time has increased a lot. Therefore, people who do spend a lot of time on their screen can benefit from filtering blue light with glasses that block blue light. This will reduce the glare that is known to cause eyestrain, headaches, and migraines, thus significantly improving sleep and eye vision.
- Use proper Lighting
Proper lighting is extremely important for reducing eye strain. Too bright and too low light will strain your eyes. Excessive light from the outdoor is tough for the eyes. So try to reduce outside light while working. Avoid overhead lighting. Instead, use floor lamps to provide indirect lighting. This will help in comfortable viewing. If you work in too low light, the computer screen may glare at your eyes. You have to balance the lighting.
Poor lighting can have extreme effects on your vision which is why it is essential to ensure appropriate lighting when looking at your screen. High-intensity lamps are likely to increase dark shadows and don’t help with the glare, so instead consider dim lights on either side for equal brightness and to eliminate shadows. You can also look into special blue light blocking lamps to enhance your workspace and improve your vision.
- Give your Eyes a much-deserved break
The eyes cannot see at a close distance for long hours. Give them a break. You may follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20-minutes and look at any object at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. While you do that, move your eyes and see at different objects at various distances.
If you work at a computer all day, it’s important to take frequent breaks. These breaks don’t have to be for long periods of time. Every hour or two, you’re your 20 minutes only to get up, go for a short walk, and stretch your arms and legs. Not only can getting away from your computer reduce eyestrain and dryness, but it can also help reduce any neck or back pain you may experience from sitting at a computer.
- Blink, Blink, and Blink
The main purpose of blinking is to clean the surface of your eyes by washing it out with fresh tears. This also nourishes your eyes with nutrients to maintain eye health. That’s why it is so important to remember to blink! Staring at the screen for a long time can have you forgetting to blink periodically which harms your eyes as they begin to dry out and increase the chances of inflammation. Make sure your eyes don’t dry out or succumb to redness and irritation due to not blinking enough. It’s recommended to blink every 20 seconds for eye health.
Blinking moistens our eyes and helps prevent dryness and irritation. The tear coating on our eyes evaporates quickly and can cause dry eyes. Moreover, due to air-conditioning system, the air in many offices is dry. This speed-up the evaporation process, thus exposing you to greater risk of dry eye problems.
In case you have this problem, visit your doctor. He/she might give you artificial tears. Do not use anything without consulting the doctor. Try blinking slowly, as you do while falling asleep. Do this 10 times. This might help in wetting your eyes.
- Do not forget your Vitamins
If you have eye health issues then your doctor may prescribe you necessary vitamins. Do not forget to take them. Eat food rich in Vitamin A. This is important for a healthy vision and strengthen the macular tissues in your eyes, thus, keeping your vision clear and sharp. Food items rich in Vitamin A include cheese, egg yolk, milk, and butter.
- Get Computer Glasses
Prescription eyewear specially designed for computer work may help you focus well on the screen. Also, this helps in reducing glare and computer eye strain. If you use eye glasses, then talk to your doctors and get it customised. If you wear contact lenses, it may become dry and uncomfortable from sustained usage. In that case, getting customised eyeglasses for computer work is the best. This is also beneficial for people who wear bifocals or progressive lenses. Since these lenses are not optimal for the distance to your computer screen so using computer glasses is a good choice.
- Eye exercises
While you can make some changes to your computer workstation and monitor, there are other things you can do to ensure you’re protecting your eyes as best you can while working.
Look away from your computer screen at least every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Focusing on an item that is about 20 feet away from you can help to reduce strain and fatigue on the eye muscles. This practice is known as the 20-20-20 rule.
- Adjust air quality
The air quality in the environment that you use a computer in can play a role in eyestrain and dryness. Use a humidifier to increase the amount of moisture in the air. If necessary, move away from fans and aperture that blow air toward your eyes and face.
Most of the offices are air-conditioned. This makes the air much drier and dry air make your eyes dry. You may try keeping some real plants in and around your work area. You may also keep air humidifier. This helps in increasing the air humidity. Artificially controlling the humidity of your work environment helps reduce eye strain.
- See an eye doctor
If you’ve tried all of the above and still can’t seem to get relief, it might be time to get your eyes evaluated. Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist or optometrist to see if you need a new prescription for glasses or contacts. Your doctor may also recommend an OTC or prescription treatment, such as eye drops or ointments, to help relieve your symptoms.
The eye is a delicate organ and it’s important to take proper care of it for enjoying good vision and preventing any eye condition. Also, keep your prescriptions up to date. If you have any eye problem or experience any change in symptoms, let your doctor know about that. Do not wear fancy glasses or experiment with coloured contact lenses readily available in the market.
It’s up to the doctor to decide whether you can wear your regular glasses or contacts for computer work or whether you need a special pair. Get your kid’s eyes checked too. Ensure that you limit their computer usage and that they are using computers under proper light.
- Use an app
There are several apps you can download on your computer that recall you to take breaks or automatically adjust your screen settings to protect your eyes.
One example is f.lux, which changes the colour and brightness of your computer screen based on the time of the day so you aren’t straining your eyes. Another example is Time out where you can set up alerts that remind you to take short breaks.
Computer eye strain is a condition that is likely to become more common in the future, as more and more jobs require extended periods of screen time.
There has been comparatively little research into computer eye strain. The same is true of its prevention and management. Perhaps the only certainty about computer eye strain is that reducing screen time is likely to help.
People can try exercises, such as the 20-20-20 rule, but if the problem persists, they should see a doctor or vision therapist. There may be a more serious underlying condition at play.