10 Tips to relieve Computer Eye Strain

Computer use is now very common in school, at work or at home. Studies show that 50-90% of users complain of physical fatigue and visual symptoms such as eyelid twitching. This type of eye strain is called computer vision syndrome (CVS).

Relieve CVS and other computer eye strains by doing the following:

  • Have a regular complete eye exam

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a routine comprehensive eye exam particularly for computer users. Initial exam should be done prior to computer use followed by intervals of at least once yearly. The eye doctor has to be informed of the average length of time a patient spends on a computer daily.

  • Have appropriate lighting

When using a computer, appropriate lighting is essential, one that is not too bright and not too dim. Generally speaking the illumination in most offices is too much, and you need roughly half the ambient light.

If possible do not use overhead lighting and switch to floor lamps which provide indirect light. If it is not possible to switch from overhead lighting, use fluorescent bulbs with full spectrum illumination that is similar to natural sunlight and positioned at an angle comfortable to the computer user.

There should not be ‘blinding’ light coming through the window and refrain from positioning the monitor in the way of bright light.

  • Reduce Excessive Glare

Glare from the monitor, the window or from other reflective surfaces like brightly painted walls and finished surfaces can cause an eye strain to a greater degree while using the computer. Minimize the glare by installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor, cover the windows with dark curtains and for eye glasses users, consider lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. If you can’t control the external sources of light, utilizing a computer hood can solve this problem. The more modern computer screens are less likely to cause this problem.

  • Consider upgrading your screen

The old monitor models called cathode ray tube (CRT) cause images to flicker, a major eye strain cause. To avoid this, upgrade to the new flat-panel LCD (liquid crystal display) screen (the larger, the better) with the highest resolution offer with a dot pitch of .28mm or less for sharper images.

CRT monitors with refresh rate of lower than 75Hz can cause more eye strains due to flicker issues. If you can’t afford to upgrade to LCD screen yet, set CRT settings to its highest refresh rate.

LCD screens do not have flicker issues due to the 200 Hz backlight that controls the display. While it may show lower refresh rate of 60Hz, for instance, it’s only an indication of the display’s pixel brightness update and does not affect the eyes.

  • Adjust monitor settings

Eye strain and fatigue can be reduced significantly by proper monitor settings adjustment.

Brightness & contrast brightness should be adjusted to match the glow within its surrounding, not too bright and not too dark. Contrast, meanwhile, has to be adjusted to a comfortable level. Black text against a white background or other high-contrast, dark-against-light arrangement is ideal, said CVS expert, Dr. James Sheedy

Text size when working long hours on documents, adjust text to a size the eyes find comfortable. Dr. Sheedy recommends a text size that is 3 times larger than the smallest normal viewing font size.

Colour temperature this is the description for the colour display’s visible light spectrum where blue is the visible, short-wavelength light that causes eye strain. Orange and red are with longer wavelengths that have lesser effects on the eyes. It is important to reduce the monitor’s colour temperature to lessen its effects on the eyes.

Settings adjustments may vary from model to model or from one computer operating system to another. Apple computer has it in its Applications folder found in Finder while Microsoft Windows has it in Control Panel in the Display Properties dialog box. Font size may be found in the Settings or in the Appearance tab (where Colour choices is also located), depending on each Windows version.

The text size may also be adjusted in View of the Explorer browser. The Help menu may be consulted to find text size and color adjustments for other browsers and email programs.

  • Moisten eyes by blinking often

It is important to make a conscious effort to blink often when working long hours in front of a computer, something that tends to be forgotten about during long periods of concentration. Dry eyes os often the result as tears evaporate quickly with less blinking, a tendency among computer users who blink 5 times less than normal.

An eye doctor may advise those with dry eyes to use lubricating eye drops, an entirely different product than eye drops used to reduce redness. Eye drops for red eyes are formulated to reduce the swelling of blood vessels on the eye surface to brighten the eyes. Lubricating eye drops are meant to reduce dryness and irritation as they work like artificial tears. Preservative-free eye drops are best and can be used very frequently while working at a computer screen.

  • Follow a regular eye exercise routine

Slowly closing and opening the eyes at least ten times every half an hour can help reduce dry eyes.

Focusing on a computer screen fatigues the eyes. Ease this by looking away from the computer after every 20-30 minutes. Relax the eye muscles by fixing the eyes on an object about 20 feet away for half a minute, blinking regularly.

The eyes focusing ability may experience accommodative spasm (a short locking up episode) caused by long hours in front of a computer. The exercise that can help avoid this is to alternately look at a distant object for about 15 seconds, then at a near object for the same length of time, blinking frequently. Do a repetition of ten.

  • Lessen discomfort by taking more breaks

Frequent 5-minute breaks during a long computer work as opposed to the regular two, 15-minute breaks greatly reduce body aches and eye strains, said a study  by NIOSH. This has been proven to increase worker’s productivity, accuracy and speed resulting in better work output.

The short breaks can help reduce tension. Within 5 minutes, one can stand up to stretch the arms, legs, back, shoulders and neck. This eases up tensed muscles. Additional quick sequence exercises information is available online and in fitness magazines and books.

  • Have a user-friendly workstation

Working on a printed page and a computer can strain the eyes and the neck when looking back and forth between the two. Instead, place a clip with a stand to hold the printed material next to the monitor and see that proper lighting illuminates the stand but not your eyes.

CVS could also be the result of wrong posture and wrong chair height. Get a computer chair that can be adjusted to a suitable height, placing the monitor at about 15 degrees below eye level to prevent neck pain. Also, the user has to be about 24 inches away from the monitor.

  • Comfort the eyes by using computer eyewear

Users of eye glasses or contact lenses may benefit with the use of computer eyeglasses which an eye care professional can tailor. Contact lenses tend to dry with prolonged computer work.