Avoiding Digital Eye Strain: Seven Easy Tips

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
If I squint just enough, jut my neck forward until it feels like it's going to snap, and swallow enough aspirin to give this headache a 1-2 punch, I'll be able to type this blog post.

Then I will take a break.

Or, maybe I need bifocals. I mean, I have lived just over half a century, and my eyes aren't getting any younger. Plus, medical studies show that long blocks of time in front of a computer screen can increase the chance of glaucoma.

Seriously, if you spend a huge chunk of time in front of a computer monitor, several simple adjustments can give your eyeballs a break! Test these tips to cut down on digital eye strain.

  1. Check your work space. Do you constantly adjust the angle of your monitor? I was, until I moved my laptop closer to the front of my desk. (Genius, I know. :) ) It's the Goldilocks and Three Bears effect: too far away = squinting, too close  = headache. But when the screen is at the perfect angle, I could write for hours. (Well, I usually do...) Programs like f.lux  or Google Sunglasses adjust the monitor brightness to the time of day. 
  2. Turn on lights. Remember when your parents would say, "Turn the lights on or you'll hurt your eyes. You can't watch TV in the dark." Same principle applies to the computer screen. Once I added a lamp on my computer desk, my aching eyes felt immediate relief.
  3. Adjust the font. Increasing font size is an easy fix. Why not bump up the type to 12 or 14 instead of that tiny 10-point?
  4. Take a break. My eye doctor suggested I write for 20 minutes, then take a break and focus on an object that is 20 feet from my computer. I've been trying to keep this schedule, but sometimes, when I'm in my groove, I forget. That's when I . . . 
  5. Set a timer. Computer programs like EyeDefender (Windows) or Workrave (Windows and Linux) remind you that it's time for a cup of tea or a walk, time to get up and step back from the screen. 
  6. Stay hydrated. Drink water. Period. Those scratchy, itchy eyes will thank you, too.
  7. Blink. Not only does blinking bring moisture to the eyes, those built-in windshield wipers keeps dust and irritants from the eyes.
Okay, my 20 minutes are up and the timer is beeping, demanding I take a break and grab a glass of water.

No headaches. No neck breaking. And best of all, no eye strain.

by LuAnn Schindler


Anonymous said...

Good reminders. My desk faces a window with a great mountain view. Lots of natural light to help ease the strain. Taking breaks (getting up and moving around) is good for the eyes and the body!

Margo Dill said...

Great tips, LuAnn. I never even thought about how drinking plenty of water can help with this--especially late at night. :)

Barbara Early said...

Just a note about bifocals. I got bifocals thinking it would help with my eyestrain, but I think they actually made it worse, since I was viewing the bottom of the screen with my reading lenses and the top with my distance lenses.

So at my last eye exam, I had them make up a pair of glasses optimized for the distance of my computer screen. Best thing I ever did. I can't say I don't get eye strain anymore, but I can spend many more comfortable hours at my computer.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Annie, I added a lamp to my desk last night and instantly felt relief. My eyes thank you! :)

Wendy said...

I love that browsers and word processors let you bump up the "zoom" level. I use that sometimes when I'm tired and want to make it easier to read. Very helpful!

LuAnn Schindler said...

I know I need bifocals, but when I told my eye doctor how much time I spend in front of a computer screen, she suggested readers for computer use. I like them, but I don't like the hassle of switching glasses all the time. HA!

And I drink a lot of water, so I shouldn't have dry eyes, but I do.

Marcia Peterson said...

Great tips. Between looking at my computer monitor, my iphone, as well as a bit of TV watching, there's way too much screen time for my eyes.

I do find that looking away every so often, if not walking away completely for a bit, is helpful.

BECKY said...

Hi LuAnn. I wear TRIfocals and I really love them, except when I'm at my laptop. After months/years of having neck aches due to looking up so that I could see the screen through the bottom-reading part, someone told me about "computer glasses"....which must be the same as Barbara Early mentioned. And YES, they are WONDERFUL! If I were you, I'd ask my eye doctor about them, because I can't imagine "readers" really being much help. Whatever you do, I hope it works for you!

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