10 Tips for Relieving Computer Eye Strain
- 1. Improved Posture Helps the Eyes
Good posture doesn't just help your back and neck. It also helps your eyes. How is this true? Bad posture tends to mean you're leaning in toward your screen. Not only are your eyes closer to the screen, but because your head is tilted forward, your eyes are also constantly looking up. Doing this repetitively is a good way to strain your eyes.
OK, so what is good posture when sitting in front of a computer? Sit back. Make sure your back is arched a bit – either sit all the way back in your chair or put a pillow or back support behind your lower back. Plant your feet on the floor. This makes it feel unnatural to lean forward. Your head should be vertically in line with your torso. You'll notice this means you're looking slightly down at your screen from about six inches further back, instead of peering intently at it.
- 2. Reduce Glare
Position your screen so that it's not reflecting much light. This may mean lowering shades or closing blinds. It may also mean turning down the lights slightly. There are other solutions that can help if this isn't practical. You can place a glare shield over your screen, or purchase computer eyewear with anti-reflective lenses. In most cases, simply re-positioning your monitor or closing blinds should be enough.
- 3. Take Regular Breaks
There's a rule called 20/20/20. What does it mean? Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes. Use it to look at something at least 20 feet away. This simply helps you take your eyes off your screen and refocus your eyes at a different distance. It's an easy and quick, but effective way to reduce eye strain.
It doesn't have to do with your vision, but it's a good idea for your overall health to stand up and take a few steps every hour. This helps your circulation and reduces some of the potential long-term effects of sitting in one position for too long, day after day.
When you take a break, don't just whip out your phone! This just exchanges one screen for another. It's important to look at things at least 20 feet away now and then to give your eyes a break. Take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery around you, just for a moment.
- 4. Change Your Monitor's Position
Tilt your monitor slightly now and again. You don't have to be looking at some ridiculous 45-degree angle. You always want your monitor face-on to you. Just a change of a few degrees to one side, or up or down, can mean you're using your eyes differently. Push your monitor back or bring it forward a few inches so that you're not always staring at the same exact distance. Remember that the top of the screen should always be at or just below eye level.
- 5. Adjust the Brightness
Change the brightness on your monitor occasionally. Many modern monitors have various brightness presets that can help. Staring at bright white constantly can hurt your eyes. Reducing that brightness just a little can relax this level of strain. If you're working late at night, many modern monitors have late-night settings. These presets)_ can reduce the brightness when there's less ambient light around you. Many even have a blue light filter that reduces the use of blue light that produces eye strain and interferes with sleep patterns.
- 6. Change the Text Size
A lot of eye strain comes from squinting and glaring to read – and not from brightness itself. When you're doing this, it's time to increase the text size on your computer. This can be done for individual programs in their options, or for most items presented on your computer from your display settings.
- 7. Blink!
If you find your eyes getting dry, start blinking a bit more. Many people subconsciously blink less often when they're staring at something close – like a computer screen. This dries your eyes out and makes them feel scratchy and sore. Blinking helps to lubricate the surface of your eyes, avoiding this.
If your eyes are still dry, consult an eye care professional. Certain drops may help to keep your eyes lubricated.
- 8. Change Your Contacts
Many people try everything they can think of to reduce eye strain. They wake up every day, put in two-week disposable contact lenses for the fifth week in a row, follow every suggestion here, and still can't figure out why their eyes hurt. Whether one-day or two-week disposables, the recommendation on contact lenses has been tested time and again.
Those wear ratings exist for a reason. You may think you're saving money by overusing contact lenses, but you're really risking the health of your eyes. Lenses get torn, develop scratches, fog up, and accumulate bacteria as they get overused. Much of this happens at a level that won't be visible, so those five-week-old lenses can still look decent while they're damaging your vision and risking eye infection.
If you don't want to go through your contacts too fast, you can also get a pair of backup glasses that you use on days when you stay in or don't feel like putting them in.
- 9. Get a Vision Check-up
Sometimes eye strain happens because it's been too long since your last vision check-up. If your prescription has changed enough, you may find yourself straining against the old prescription to see as well as you'd like. It's natural for prescriptions to change. Eyesight and eye health can improve or worsen over time.
Get a vision check-up every year. This can identify long-term health issues in your eyes before they become problems. It aids in getting prescription changes when you need them before eye strain happens. Optometrists can also identify causes of eye strain and solutions for them that are unique to you and your job. The check-up is worth it, so give us a call and schedule yours.