Are You Suffering From Computer Eye Strain? 5 Tips to Eliminate It
Staring at the computer monitor several hours each day can have a detrimental effect on one’s vision. Common complaints and symptoms of eye strain are dry and itchy eyes, blurred vision, headaches and neck/upper back discomfort. There is a direct correlation between the amount of discomfort and the amount of computer, i.e. the longer you are on the computer, the more symptoms you have.
You may be wondering why computer monitors cause eye issues. One of the main reasons is what I call the “monitor stare down”. This is when you star at the monitor and don’t blink as often as you normally would. Less blinking means your eyes dry out more quickly. Dry eyes leads to discomfort and eyestrain. A simple solution is to just “Blink!” Purposely blink a lot. If you still have dry eyes then consider eye drops. If over-the-counter drops don’t work you may need to go see your eye doctor.
Another reason for computer eyestrain is due to the size of the font or screen characters display on the monitor. Do you find yourself leaning towards your monitor to read the screen? If so, either you monitor is too far away or the screen character size is too small. A simple solution for this is to increase the character size. You can zoom your screen, i.e. make it bigger. This can be done in different ways. On some laptops your simply move your fingers apart or together on the mousing surface and it zooms out or in the display on the monitor. If you use programs such as Microsoft Office there is a bar on the bottom right hand corner that you can slide to change the magnification. For Internet browsers the way that normally works to change the magnification is to use the control key (CTRL) and the plus “+” or minus “-“ key at the same time.
Other monitor properties that contribute to eyestrain are the refresh rate, brightness and contrast. The refresh rate is the rate at which the monitor is “refreshing” each pixel. This happens so fast that we rarely, if ever, notice it. Since we don’t notice it we normally don’t consider this but our eyes are very sensitive to minor changes in brightness. This causes our eye muscles to work overtime. There is nothing you can do to change the refresh rate of your monitor—it is set by the manufacturer. In this case the solution is simply to look away from your monitor. The 20/20/20 rule works great: every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes something else to look at in which they the eye muscles don’t have to work so hard.
Brightness and contrast of the monitor can be changed on the monitor itself. You will need to go into your monitor’s menu to adjust them. Try adjusting them up and down. Whatever looks and feels best to your eyes is where you should adjust it.
A key thing to consider is your vision—how long has it been since you went to an eye doctor to have your vision checked? If your vision has changed then your eyes are working overtime to see your monitor. This would cause eyestrain no matter if all of the above were perfect. Do you wear bifocals or progressive lenses? The height and distance of the monitor to your eyes will be different compared to someone who doesn’t wear glasses or wears only single vision lenses. Typically the monitor will need to closer and lower; however, the exact height and distance will depend on your prescription and how it fits within the height of your lenses.
Other ergonomic factors that can effective eyestrain include lighting (too much, too little, wrong color, etc.), glare, sitting/standing posture and screen placement (wrong height and/or distance distance).
If you experience eyestrain, go through the above list and see if you can determine which one or ones is the culprit. Having trouble figuring it out? Feel free to contact me with questions.