In our technology driven world we spend a lot of time in front of screens, both at work and at home. Televisions, cell phones, tablets, and computers are the focus of our attention for an unprecedented amount of time each day. As our society adapts to this screen-driven lifestyle, it is important to consider the effect of these screens on our eyes.

What is computer eye strain?

Working on a computer can put strain on the eyes in several ways. The height and angle of the computer monitor, glare from the screen, and frequent refocusing can strain the eyes. It is challenging for the eyes to have to refocus between several monitors, scrolling text, and looking back and forth from the screen to other points of focus in the room. This strain can manifest in many different vision symptoms.

Computer eye strain symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Tired, dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity

Steps to relieve computer eye strain

Eye strain and the computer do not have to go hand in hand. There are many measures that can be taken to improve symptoms and prevent strain. The 20-20-20 rule is a widely accepted technique to reduce eye strain when using a computer for an extended period of time. The rule requires that when engaging in computer use, one takes a break every 20 minutes and looks at an object at least 20 feet away from your computer for at least 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a chance to rest and prevents them from strain and overuse while using a computer.

If you often alternate between looking at a computer screen and looking at paper while working, it is helpful to set up a stand for your paper next to the monitor. This minimizes the strain from moving your eyes and neck frequently. It is also important to have your computer monitor positioned in such a way that the angle does not put strain on your eyes or your neck.

Computer glasses that protect against harmful blue light are a great resource to combat computer eye strain. Blue light has been linked to eye strain and can cause permanent damage to the eyes over a prolonged period of time. Computer glasses that block blue light allow you to focus on a computer screen without the strain and dryness that usually go along with computer use.

Using proper light while on the computer is also essential to minimize strain. Most office environments are much brighter than is recommended for prolonged computer use. Reducing light and glare makes computer use much more comfortable for they eyes.

Implementing these techniques, while also remembering to take frequent breaks and to blink often, will reduce computer eye strain. It is impossible to eliminate computer use from daily life, but it is possible to protect your eyes from the damage that computer screens can wreak. If you feel like computer use is taking a toll on your eyes your eye doctor can help you create a personalized plan to reduce eye strain and increase comfort.