Computer eye strain is the number one eye-related complaint in the United States, and it’s no wonder – the average American adult spends nine hours a day staring into screens. If you’re experiencing eye strain symptoms like itchy, tired, or burning eyes and headaches or loss of focus and spend a large chunk of your day in front of a computer, you could be suffering from computer eye strain. Sometimes referred to as digital eye strain, the condition affects between 70-75 percent of computer workers. The good news is there are numerous things you can do to help avoid the condition and calm its symptoms.
Remember when your mom told you not to sit too close to the TV because it was bad for your eyes? Well, the same goes for a computer. Optometrists recommend placing a computer monitor somewhere between 20-30 inches from your eyes. If you don’t have a ruler handy, use your arm – the length of your arm, from shoulder to finger tips, should be about right for measuring the distance between yourself and the monitor. At this distance your eyes should meet the top of the monitor’s edge, which means you’ll view the screen at a slight downward angle. If the text isn’t sharp, clear, and readable at this distance and angle, make an appointment with your optometrist as you may require vision correction.
In order to avoid common eye strain symptoms, give your eyes a break every half hour or so. While many workers take only two 15-minute breaks from their computer throughout their work day, experts claim this isn’t enough. According to a recent study, computer eye strain symptoms were significantly reduced when computer workers took at least six “mini-breaks” throughout their work day – take a walk, stand up, stretch your shoulders, and get a breath of fresh air. Not only are breaks good for your eyes, but your back, neck, wrists, and fingers may also appreciate the rest.
Don’t Forget to Blink
Not only does blinking naturally moisten your eyes, but it keeps dryness and irritation at bay. When working at a computer, people blink about one-third as often as they normally do and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures. A conscious effort should be made to blink lightly every 10-15 seconds; it will coat the cornea, nourish the eye with oxygen and nutrients, and sharpen your vision. If you experience persistent eye strain symptoms that don’t seem to go away, talk to your optometrist about using artificial tears.
Pay Attention to Glare & Lighting
Some computer eye strain symptoms can be caused by excessively bright light. Whether the bright light is natural light from outside or harsh interior lighting, pay attention to your surroundings. Eliminate exterior light by shutting drapes, and reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or using floor lamps in lieu of overhead fluorescent lighting. Additionally, pay attention to glare – glare on walls and finished surfaces in addition to glare on your computer screen can contribute to computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if you wear glasses, purchase them with anti-reflective (AR) coating – it will reduce the glare by minimizing the amount of reflected light.