7 ways to reduce eye strain

7 Ways to Reduce Eye Strain for Computer Users

Many people have been working from home and spending long hours in front of their computers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, too much screen time can lead to something called digital eye strain and increased likely hood of burnout.

Also known as computer vision syndrome, digital eye strain can cause blurry vision, eye dryness, and eye redness. If left unchecked, digital eye strain can also cause significant and frequent discomfort. It may also negatively impact your productivity and work efficiency.

While it would be ideal to cut down the amount of time you spend in front of your computer every day, it’s not always realistic. Fortunately, there are many ways you can take care of your eyes and avoid digital eye strain when working on a computer. Read on to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • Working on a computer for long periods can lead to digital eye strain.
  • Digital eye strain can cause significant and frequent discomfort. It may also negatively impact your productivity and work efficiency.
  • You can avoid digital eye strain when working on a computer by taking breaks, exercising your eyes, and adjusting your computer display settings.

7 helpful tips to reduce eye strain

1. Take frequent breaks

Sitting in front of a computer for hours on end can cause eye strain, headaches, and even neck pain. To avoid discomfort, follow the 20-20-20 rule. This method involves looking away from the screen and focusing your eyes on any object that’s at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Do this every 20 minutes. The 20-20-20 rule is thought to relieve and prevent symptoms of digital eye strain by relaxing the eye muscles.

If you tend to get absorbed in your work, set a timed reminder on your computer or smartphone. This ensures that you remember to give your eyes a break every 20 minutes.

2. Blink more often

Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness, irritation, and discomfort. However, people tend to blink less frequently when working on a computer. During non-blinking phases, tears coating the surface of the eye evaporate more quickly, causing dryness. To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try blinking 10 times as if falling asleep, i.e., very slowly. Do this every 20 minutes to help rewet your eyes.

3. Exercise your eyes

Staring at a stationary object, such as your computer screen, for long periods can strain the muscles that aim and focus your eyes. To prevent eye strain while working on a computer, try performing the focus change exercise.

  1. Hold one finger a few inches away from one eye.
  2. Focus your gaze on your finger.
  3. Slowly move your finger away from your face.
  4. Focus your gaze on an object farther away.
  5. Focus your gaze on your finger.
  6. Bring your finger back closer to your eye.
  7. Focus your gaze on an object farther away.
  8. Repeat three times.

4. Modify your workstation

Proper placement of the computer monitor on your desk can help reduce glare and promote a more comfortable experience. Position your monitor so that it’s 20 to 24 inches away from your eyes. The center of your monitor should also be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes so that you don’t hunch over or sit up excessively straight to see your screen well.

5. Maintain good posture

Hunching over your desk can create tension in your back and shoulders, which can restrict blood flow to your eyes and cause vision problems. Therefore, it’s important to observe proper sitting posture when working on a computer.

Here’s how to sit in front of your computer correctly:

  • Sit with your back straight, your shoulders pulled back, and your buttocks touching the end of your seat.
  • Keep your neck and head at an upright angle with your ears aligned to your shoulders.
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor or rest them on a footrest.
  • Keep your hips even. Avoid leaning on any side.
  • Take breaks. Do not sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time. 

6. Adjust your computer display settings

Adjusting the display settings of your computer can also help relieve digital eye strain. Generally, adjusting the following settings will be beneficial:

  1. Brightness – The brightness of your screen should match that of your environment. To achieve this, look at a blank document or at the white background of a webpage. If it looks like it’s glowing, your screen is too bright. If it seems dull, your screen is too dark.
  2. Text size – The size of the letters on your screen should be about three times the smallest size you can read from a normal viewing position, i.e., roughly 20 to 30 inches away from your monitor.
  3. Contrast – When it comes to color combinations, your eyes prefer black text on a white background. Other dark-on-light combinations also work fine for most people. Whichever combination you go for, avoid low contrast text and background color schemes.
  4. Color temperature – Color temperature, which is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K), affects how warm or cool we perceive light to be. If the color temperature is high, images on your screen will appear bluish. If the color temperature is low, images will appear in warmer tones. During the day, it’s best to keep your screen cool with a default color temperature of 6,500K. At night, your screen’s color temperature should be warm (around 3,400K).

7. Consider blue-light-blocking glasses

Blue light is found naturally in sunlight and artificially in computer screens. Not all blue light is bad, but it does scatter easily, creating visual “noise.” That noise can eventually contribute to digital eye strain.

If you work on a computer for several hours at a time, consider blue-light-blocking glasses. As the name suggests, these glasses help filter some of the high-energy blue light from computer screens.

These days, there are also contact lenses that are specifically designed to meet the unique visual demands of prolonged computer use. Make sure to consult an eye care professional (ECP) to determine if you need special eyewear to prevent digital eye strain.

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Final Thoughts on Avoiding Eye Strain

Staring at your computer screen for prolonged periods can lead to digital eye strain. Unfortunately, work obligations may often prohibit you from limiting your computer use. The good news is there are many ways you can take care of your eyes and avoid digital eye strain when working on a computer, such as taking breaks, exercising your eyes, and adjusting your computer display settings.

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