Staring at a computer screen all day can wreak havoc on your eyes. Irritated eyes, blurry vision, and headaches are some of the common signs of a condition called computer vision syndrome. Around 70 million workers worldwide are at risk of suffering from this syndrome, according to a 2016 study. Apart from the health effects, these workers will also be less productive, according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Although computer vision syndrome is common, you can take measures to avoid it. Here are six ways to reduce the strain on your eyes when working on a computer:
1. Use Proper Lighting
A main cause of eyestrain is improper lighting. Excessively bright light from interior lighting or windows should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is that the ambient lighting in your computer workspace should be about half as bright as that in the rest of the office.
You can cut down on some of the unnecessary light by using lower intensity light bulbs and by having blinds or drapes on the windows. Plus, if possible, position your computer screen to the side of any windows rather than directly in line with them.
2. Place Your Computer Screen in the Optimal Position
You can reduce eyestrain by placing your computer screen around 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little below eye level. This will reduce eyestrain as well as help avoid neck, shoulder, and back pain.
3. Adjust Your Computer Screen Settings
You should adjust the brightness of your computer screen so that it matches the ambient lighting of your workspace. To do this, load a web page that is all or mostly white. If the screen seems dull, the brightness might be too low. If it looks like a light source, the brightness is set too high. If you do not want to manually adjust your screen, there are applications that will automatically adjust its brightness throughout the day based on the ambient lighting.
Text size and contrast are two more issues to consider when making screen adjustments. Both options can be adjusted within your computer’s display settings. On Windows devices, the display settings are in Control Panel, while on Apple devices, they are in System Preferences.
4. Exercise Your Eyes
Constantly focusing on your screen can tire out your eyes. This fatigue can cause your eyes’ focusing ability to diminish after using a computer for an extended period of time.
Exercising your eyes is a good way to avoid eye fatigue. One exercise to follow is called the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, you should look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Another eye exercise is to look at a distant object for 10 to 15 seconds and then look at a close object for the same amount of time. Repeating this process 10 times can help reduce eye fatigue.
Remembering to exercise your eyes throughout the day can be difficult. Fortunately, there are a few applications you can use to schedule reminders.
5. Blink More Often
When you work on a computer, you blink significantly less than you normally would. By consciously blinking more often, you can help keep your eyes from drying out and becoming irritated. Using eye drops can also keep your eyes moist.
6. Take Frequent Breaks
Taking more mini-breaks during the day can reduce the risk of eye problems as well as neck, shoulder, and back pain, according to a study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In the study, workers had four 5-minute breaks throughout the day in addition to their normal breaks. The added breaks minimized the workers’ eyestrain and discomfort, without impairing their productivity.