Protecting Your Eyes From Computer

By on July 19, 2014
eye strain

It is hard to believe that two decades or so ago many of us didn’t even know how to turn on a computer. Today, everyone is surfing the thing called Internet and kids are learning their ABCs on small hand-held computers.

If you are reading this, then we think it is safe to assume you use a computer on a regular basis. If you use a computer for your job, then use a laptop or tablet for personal usage, then you might be spending at least 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen. No wonder your eyes are strained. Our eyes just are not designed to stare at a flat screen for hours and hours. The muscles inside your eyes are very much like a lens on a camera. They change the shape and size of your eye when you are focusing on an object. But when you look at things up close, like a computer screen, for long periods of time, the muscles become stressed. The effects are tired eyes, headaches, neck pain, etc.

Major causes of eye strain are eyes getting too close to computer, too many hours at the computer, blinking less, poor posture, poor lighting, and excessive glare.

Prevention of Eye Strain

Proper lighting

Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. Eliminate exterior light by closing drapes, shades or blinds. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.

Eye exam

Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. Generally, computer users should have an eye exam before they start working on a computer and once a year thereafter.

woman adjusting monitor

Adjust computer display settings

Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it is approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation.
  • Text size and contrast. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.

Blink, blink, blink

When working at a computer, people blink less frequently — about one-third as often as they normally do — and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures, according to studies. Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep. This will help rewet your eyes.

Exercise your eyes

Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object, at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the "20-20-20 rule." Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times.

Take frequent breaks

To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day. Many workers take only two 15-minute breaks from their computer throughout their work day. Increase your breaks or number of breaks in a convenient manner. During your computer breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue.

Minimize glare

Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright white walls a darker color with a matte finish.

Upgrade your display

If you have not already done so, replace your old tube-style monitor (called a cathode ray tube or CRT) with a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD), like those on laptop computers. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. Old-fashioned CRT screens can cause a noticeable "flicker" of images, which is a major cause of computer eye strain. Even if this flicker is imperceptible, it still can contribute to eye strain and fatigue during computer work.

Modify your workstation

If you need to look back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen, this can cause eye strain. Place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor. Light the copy stand properly. You may want to use a desk lamp, but make sure it doesn't shine into your eyes or onto your computer screen.

Palming

“Palm” your eyes by covering them with the palms of your hands, blocking out the light completely for 1 to 3 minutes several times a day. Palming is one of the most relaxing things you can do for your eyes.

girl working in laptop

Home Remedies

Keep potato slices on your closed eyes for about 20 minutes. If you eyes are burning, itchy and irritated, this old homemade remedy just might help you. Raw potato has drying and disinfectant properties, as well as being a rich source of vitamin C. Store potato slices in water in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help sooth your eyes.

Rose water is a relaxer and can be used as eye drops for soothing effect in tired and fatigued eyes. Wash and flush your eyes in cool tap water. Dry by dabbing with a clean towel, but do not rub. Let rest for a few minutes and wash and flush with cotton balls soaked in rose water.

Simple cold water splashed on the face and closed eyes can often relieve mild eye strain. For a more concentrated remedy, you can add fennel seeds to hot water and allow it to cool before applying it sparingly to your eyes. Drinking plenty of water also helps you reduce eye strain.

In a world full of personal computers, hand-held video games, smartphones, e-readers, and hours of television, eye-related problems are increasing around the world. Before your eyes are badly strained, have blurry vision and needlessly suffer headaches, you need to rest them and take care of them.

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