Over half of all those using computers at work report experiencing eyestrain problems as a result, which can, in turn, lead to other issues, like headaches and sore, red eyes; and contact lens wearers are at even more risk than those who wear glasses or use neither. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help prevent these issues, and we are going to run through them right here, so you can get started on giving your eyes a break right after you finish reading!
Have regular eye exams
Everyone should be having eye checks, of course, but it’s even more important when you spend a lot of time looking at screens. Make a point of arranging one today, and then sign up for regular checks either yearly or more often if your eye doctor recommends it. You can set alerts on your phone to remind you of future appointments, so you don’t let things slip.
Organize suitable lighting
Strip lighting or sunbeams shining through large windows – both can add extra strain to your eyes when looking at a computer screen, so you need to find a way to cut the lighting by half. That’s not always straightforward, but if you have the option try to use a floor lamp rather than overhead lights, or at least tilt the blinds to help a little.
Rearrange your desk or work area
It’s best to avoid having to keep looking down at notes or papers then back to the screen, so instead think about how musicians position their music – at eye level. Ideally, your screen should be around 20-24 inches away from your eyes – try holding your arm out in front of you, the palm of your hand shouldn’t touch the screen. Also, take a look at the angle of the computer screen which should be around 10-15 degrees lower than your eye line (when you are sitting correctly in the chair).
Wear special glasses
If you don’t wear glasses invest in a special anti-glare monitor screen. Their glasses are made with a special anti-glare technology which coats the lenses and also filters more than half of the dangerous blue light rays which screens emit. Research into the long-term effects of blue light are ongoing, but studies on animals have shown that long periods of exposure can cause retina damage. One thing that experts know for sure is that special glasses like this make computer work much more comfortable in the short term, and possibly sight-saving in the long term.
Take regular breaks
This is something everyone using a screen should take note of, although it may be difficult to enforce in some jobs. At the very least you should actively look at something else apart from the screen for about a minute every twenty minutes or so. Try to look at items at various distances so your eyes can refocus, this is like a mini work out for the muscles in your eye.
You should also aim to take 4-5 short 4-5 minute breaks physically away from screens during the day; this is as well as regular breaks. Don’t spend your coffee or lunch break on a device either, as tempting as that is.
Use the best possible display
You should be using an LCD screen, as the older CRT screens are harsher on your eyes. If it’s a case of CRT or nothing and you can adjust its settings set it for a high refresh rate, and if choosing a new one opt for screens with high resolution. Finally, always try to use the largest screen size possible.
Tweak display settings to suit your eyes
There are several ways to do this, including (for documents) choosing a font which is easier to read, increasing the font size, and colour if necessary. You can also tweak the display colours via the control panel to be more orange or red.
Don’t forget to blink
Blinking is something we don’t usually really think about, it just happens automatically – but when you are in front of a screen it pays to make yourself more aware of doing it. The reason? It’s been proven that computer work makes people drop the number of times they blink a minute to an incredible third of what is necessary for healthy, moistened eyes! No wonder so many of us then end up with sore, dry eyes.
Artificial tears can help, but where possible try to overcome this and make yourself blink more often. (To avoid looking a little strange you could set a reminder on your screen so say every 15 minutes you look away and blink around fifteen times. For the best results do this really slowly.)
It’s never too early (or too late) to focus your energy on improving your eye health and avoiding common eye problems associated with computer screen exposure. Some of the ideas suggested here are things anyone can work into their schedule or situation, others may depend on enlightened management.
Either way, it’s important that more people are aware of the hidden dangers computer screens can hold for your precious eyes, and that by having regular checks, wearing suitable eyeglasses, and taking regular breaks it is possible to tackle or avoid many problems before they turn into major crises. Don’t wait until the problems begin – get started on this screen strategy plan right now!