With so many of us using computers at work, computer eye strain has become a major job-related complaint. Studies show that eye strain and other bothersome visual symptoms occur in 50 to 90 percent of computer workers.
These problems can range from physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors, to minor annoyances like eye twitching and red eyes. Here are some quick tips to help prevent eye strain:
1. Modify Your Workstation
• Your computer screen should be 20 to 28 inches from the eyes. This will allow you to read the screen without leaning your head or neck back and forth.
• Monitor position: Your computer screen should be directly in front of you and about 4 or 5 inches below eye level. You should not have to twist your head or neck to clearly see your screen.
• Document holder: Locate it at about the same height and distance as the screen. This will reduce head turning and refocusing when you look from the document to the screen.
2. Use Proper Lighting
• Glare (i.e. windows and lights): Use a screen glare filter to eliminate light sources Reducing glare will make sure you can see your screen clearly and comfortably.
• Eliminate exterior light by closing drapes, shades or blinds. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
• Try and avoid working under overhead fluorescent lights. If possible, turn off the overhead fluorescent lights in your office and use floor lamps that provide indirect incandescent or halogen lighting instead.
3. Take Frequent Breaks
• Try the 20/20/20 rule to reduce the chance of eyestrain during long periods of computer use. Every 20 minutes while using the computer, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will give your eye focusing muscles time to rest.
• Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times.
• During your computer breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue.
4. Blink Frequently
• Your eyes can become dry, itchy, or burning during computer use. Blinking often can keep the front surface of your eyes from drying out.
• To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.
5. Get Plenty of Rest
• When you get less sleep than you need, your eyes may become more easily irritated. During sleep our eyes rest for an extended period and are replenished by nutrients. Ongoing eye irritation can lead to swelling and infection, especially if you wear contact lenses.
• If you have to be at your computer for a marathon work session, take regular rest breaks or “power naps,” if possible.
• Apply a washcloth soaked in warm water to tired, dry eyes (with eyes closed).
• Use tired or sore eyes as a signal that it’s time to stop working and get some rest or sleep.
Finally, try to limit your computer time when you’re not working. It is difficult to let go of technology, but your eyes will thank you. Get up, go outside, or take a walk. Anything that will keep your eyes away from the computer screen!
Doctor Gregg Feinerman is a world-renowned eye surgeon based in Newport Beach, California. As an Orange County eye surgeon, he specializes in LASIK vision correction and cataract surgeries. He and his friendly, knowledgeable staff are available to help you achieve your optimal eye health needs at Feinerman Vision Center.