In the past few months we've had more than our usual number of requests for information regarding computer related eye strain, to help us make this easier in future we've compiled our answers into this current newsletter article, which will become part of our archives.
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, color perception change, decreased vision, work errors and reduced efficiency. Working at a computer can increase the risk of eye strain.
Cause - Primary or Direct Glare Primary glare is direct glare and can be caused by facing a window or by a ceiling light shining directly into the eyes. The eyes look at the monitor but are constantly compensating for the bright light in front of them. Suggested Solutions To cut glare, windows need to have blinds or curtains. Move the desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not shining into your eyes and eliminate the glare.
Cause - 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, windows need to have blinds or curtains. Install an antiglare screen filter on your monitor. Move the desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not reflected from the monitor into your eyes.
Cause - Ergonomic Set up The most common ergonomic monitor problems are related to sitting too close to the monitor, placing 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 eyes to the monitor is 45cm to 75cm. This distance will also help keep you distanced from dust particles which get attracted to the monitor. 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. If necessary, remove the monitor's base or add a monitor riser/stand to gain extra height. Lower or raise the work surface that the monitor sits on. 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 - the size of font, background vs foreground colour, adjust them to make it easy to read.
Cause - Not Taking Breaks By gazing at your monitor for long periods without a break your eyes can tire. 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.
Eye Exercises With your eyes closed, slowly move your eyes to the right, to the left, up, and then down. see below. 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.
Benefits: Like any other part of the body, the eye muscles need exercise. Eye exercises help keep the muscles strong and active. Also helps relieve the strain of looking at a computer screen for extended periods.
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 / Contact Lenses Glasses specifically designed for computer use can ease eye strain and anti-glare lenses help as well see computer eye glasses. 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.