June 29, 2021

We regularly receive enquiries about computer screen generated eye strain especially in regard to what can be done about it. For many of us our work consists of staring at a computer monitor eight plus hours a day.  When you throw in the amount of time we look at our phones, tablets and TV’s in addition to our computers, then we can be looking at our screens 10 to 12 hours per day or even more—it’s no wonder our eyes protest!

What is Eyestrain? Eye strain usually manifests as: Problems reading - Pain or ache in the eyes - Blurred vision - Headaches - Dizziness - Dry eyes - Watery eyes - Tired Eyes. Unless steps are taken to correct problems that cause eyestrain, it can progress and cause neck and shoulder pain, colour perception change, decreased vision, work errors and reduced efficiency.

1. Primary or direct glare. Primary glare is direct glare and can be caused by facing a window or a ceiling light shining directly into your eyes. Your eyes look at the monitor but are constantly compensating for the bright light coming through the window or from the light in front of you.

Suggested solutions to cut glare:
It seems obvious but place light filtering shades, blinds or curtains on your windows.

Try as much as possible not to sit directly in front of a bright light.

To eliminate glare, move your desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not shining into your eyes.

2. Secondary or reflected glare. Secondary glare is reflective glare and is most often caused by having a window behind you or a ceiling light reflected off the screen into the eyes. The eyes look at the monitor but have to compensate for the reflected light while looking at the normal screen brightness.

Suggested Solutions to cut glare:
Again, windows need to have filtering shades, blinds or curtains.

Install an antiglare screen filter on your monitor; this will considerably reduce the amount of reflection.

If possible, move the desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not reflected from the monitor into your eyes.

3. Ergonomic set up.  The most common ergonomic monitor problems are related to sitting too close to the monitor, setting the monitor too high or too low, or viewing the monitor placed too far to one side of the desk.

Suggested Solutions:
The recommended distance from the monitor to the eyes is 45cm to 75cm. Setting your monitor within this range will also keep dust particles (which get attracted to monitors) from your eyes.

Clean the monitor each day as it attracts dust which can irritate the eyes.

Adjust your monitor so that the top of the monitor is level with your eyes, this will ensure that for most work  your eyes will look slightly down without straining your neck and help keep your eyes relaxed.

When the eyes look down they blink more and produce more lubrication.

Use an easily adjustable monitor arm that allows you to lower or raise your monitor to the correct level.

Use a document holder to enable you to work from documents at an equal distance to your eyes as the screen so that you don't have to keep readjusting your focus.

Ensure that you position your monitor squarely in front of you.

How readable is your screen – consider the size of font, background vs foreground colour, adjust them to make it easy to read.

4. Not Taking Breaks

Without doubt, gazing at your monitor for long periods of time without a break tires your eyes.

Suggested Solutions:
Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by focussing on something at a distance.

Follow the 20/20 rule - every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.

Rub your hands together until they are warm. Close your eyes and cup your warm palms over your eyes.

5. Blue Light
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina. Furthermore, in certain wavelengths, blue light is implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration(AMD). Blue light is emitted from all devices with LED screems, including computer monitors, phones, tablets, gaming devices and TV’s.

Suggested solutions:
Install an anti-blue light filter on your monitor, phone or TV, etc

Eye Exercises 
Benefits: Like any other part of the body, the eye muscles need exercise. Eye exercises help keep the eye muscles strong and active. They also help relieve eye strain from looking at a computer screen for extended periods.

As with all exercise, you need to listen to your body, keep the back of the neck and spine lengthened and the rib cage lifted. Remember to breathe as you work with the different exercises.

Step 1: Keeping the back and neck straight and the head still, look as high as possible, and look down. Repeat this movement 10 times. Close and rest the eyes for about 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

Step 2: Keeping the eyes wide open, look as far to the right as possible, and then to the left. Repeat this movement 10 times, close and rest the eyes for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Make wide circles with your eyes by rolling them clockwise. Perform at least 10 circles. Repeat the exercise counter-clockwise. Close and relax the eyes.

Glasses and Contact Lenses

Glasses specifically designed for computer use can ease eye strain.
Contact lenses and laser eye surgery can also dry your eyes out and make them more fatigued. You may need to use eye drops/liquid tears. Remember to have regular eye checks to ensure you are wearing the correct prescription.

Also check out Anti-glare glasses. These glasses will reduce amount of glare from your computer monitor thereby reducing eye strain.

Our eyes are truly precious and obviously we want to keep them healthy for as long as possible. Whatever we can do to protect and look after them is a top priority. Our eyes are truly precious and obviously we want to keep them healthy for as long as possible. Whatever we can do to protect and look after them is a top priority.

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