Essential eye care advice if you use a computer
Using a computer or other digital device for extended periods is a leading cause of eye strain. Spending two or more consecutive hours looking at a screen puts you at risk of what the American Optometric Association refers to as “computer vision syndrome” or “digital eyestrain”.
Although eye strain is not serious it can cause tiredness and affect your concentration. If you already have eye problems, working on a computer for extended periods can exacerbate them.
What causes computer eye strain?
There are a number of reasons why computers cause more eye strain than reading books or magazines:
- People tend to blink less while using computers which causes eyes to become dry and sore.
- There may be a tendency to continue reading without resting your eyes.
- Often the viewing distance or angle of the screen is not ideal. People might have poor posture, which causes neck and eye strain.
- Screens sometimes have a glare that can strain the eyes or text can be difficult to read against the background. Poor lighting or contrast means the eyes have to strain to see properly.
- If you are working in an air-conditioned environment this can increase eye dryness.
- Stress or tiredness can make it harder to focus
What can you do to reduce computer eye strain?
It is a good idea to see an optician who can carry out an examination to check that there is not an underlying problem. It may be that the optician recommends glasses specifically for computer use, to protect your eyes and minimise eye strain.
There are some things you can do to protect your eyes while sitting in front of your computer screen:
- Adjust your monitor so it is an arm’s length away from you with your screen at or just below eye level. An adjustable chair can help to prevent postural problems.
- Take regular breaks from the screen – at least every 20 minutes – to rest your eyes. Try looking at something far away for half a minute to allow your eyes to adjust their focus.
- Be mindful of how often you are blinking. Blinking produces tears that refresh and moisten your eyes. People tend to stare at their computer screen and blink less frequently than normal so try to get into the habit of blinking more often.
- Adjust your screen settings to increase the type size to make reading easier. You can also adjust the contrast and brightness to reduce strain on your eyes.
- Glare can make it harder to read what’s on your computer screen. Direct sunlight from behind you and fluorescent lights can make it particularly difficult so consider investing in a blind or turning overhead lights off when you are working. Use a matte computer screen filter to help reduce eye strain by reducing the glare.
- Use a document holder if you need to refer to printed material while you are working. It will help to reduce the amount of times you need to turn your neck and head and avoid having to keep readjusting your vision.
It is important to have regular eye tests to check that your eyes are healthy and that your vision has not deteriorated since your last test.
If you need glasses, or you don’t have the right prescription, it will increase the strain on your eyes so make sure you have a test at least every two years or more often if you are older or have certain medical conditions.
If you are concerned about your eye health then please contact us to book a consultation.