Does your job include using a computer most of the day? All this staring at computer screens can cause your eyes to feel fatigued and strained. In fact, more than half of people who use computers daily for work report eye problems.
For many of us, there’s no way around staring at a computer screen for hours every day. It’s part of our jobs. But how do you avoid computer vision syndrome (the general term for eyestrain brought on by using computers) without it affecting your work?
As it turns out, employees are more productive when they reduce their computer eye strain at work. If you can protect your eyes from getting fatigued, you’ll get more done throughout the day, and your eyes will hurt less.
What Are The Causes Of Computer Eye Strain?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is the result of several factors. First, our eyes blink half as often as they should when we stare at computer screens. Since blinking is one way your eyes moisturize and sooth themselves, they tend to get irritated when you don’t blink enough.
Your eye’s focusing mechanism can also contribute to eye strain. The muscles in your eyes work hard to focus your vision, and the constantly changing images associated with computer usage give your eyes an even bigger workout. Similar to repetitive stress injuries, the repeated motion of focusing eventually leads to eye strain, which only gets worse the longer you keep doing the motion. It’s also more difficult for your eyes to focus on the pixels making up the letters on your screen than it is to read ink on paper, although you might not consciously notice a difference. After a while, all the extra focusing adds up to more and more eyestrain.
Contrast and brightness can also contribute to computer eye strain. If your computer screen is overly bright compared to your office, then your eyes constantly have to adjust every time you look away from your screen. After a while, it’s easy to see how your eyes can become fatigued. Other attributes of a computer screen, such as glare, color, and flicker, can also add to your eye strain.
What Are The Steps to Relieve Computer Eye Strain?
Cutting back on your computer time isn’t always an option, but there are several steps you can take throughout the day to prevent or alleviate computer eyestrain symptoms:
- Take breaks. Simply getting up and walking away from your computer can help rest your eyes. Going for a short walk every hour or two throughout the work day also has many health benefits and can help reduce back pain.
- Optimize your office lighting. The lighting in your office shouldn’t be overly bright, but it shouldn’t be too dark, either. Draw the blinds on sunny days, and try not to have any lights shine directly on your computer monitor, causing a glare.
- Adjust your monitor. The top of your computer monitor should be at about eye level. LCD monitors are better than older, tube-style ones, and the screen’s brightness should be at about the same level as the ambient light in your work area. Also, black text on a white background is better than other color combinations.
- Try the “20-20-20 rule.” To help rest your eyes’ focusing muscles, look away from your screen every 20 minutes, focus on an object roughly 20 feet away, and stare at it for 20 seconds.
- Make a conscious effort to blink more often. We don’t blink enough while using a computer. This can lead to dry, itchy eyes, which will only aggravate eyestrain symptoms.
- Keep your smartphone’s screen further from your face. Smartphones and tablets also contribute to eye strain. When using these smaller computer screens, it’s important to keep them at least one foot away from your face—it’s much harder for your eyes to focus on objects that are close up. Get a comprehensive eye exam, and talk to your eye doctor about eye strain at work
If you suffer from chronic eye strain, it’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam from an experienced eye doctor. This will be a good opportunity for you to ask your eye doctor whether computer usage is adding to your eye problems, and what to do about it. An optometrist will be able to help you develop an individualized plan for reducing eye strain at work.
The right vision insurance plan can help you save money at the eye doctor’s office. Get an individual vision insurance plan quote today. Once you’ve completed your vision plan enrollment, keep your eyes open for dental insurance plan options from Guardian Direct®.