Global use of computers and smartphones for internet access continues to rise. According to January 2022 statistics, 4.95 billion individuals worldwide use the internet or over 60% of the world population.
However, with advanced technologies come new consequences like computer eye strain. To avoid computer strain, office workers must make a few changes in computer use.
Read on to learn a tip or two on how to protect yourself from this condition.
Why Does Staring at a Computer Cause Eye Strain?
Before computers came about, all office materials and readings were in print. But now that we rely more on pixels to gather information and accomplish tasks, we also need to learn how to use computers more efficiently.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), we are more vulnerable to eye strain when reading digital than printed material.
It’s because the letters on screens are not as clear as the ones on paper. Screens also feature less contrast compared with printed pages. Screens are prone to glare and reflection, too, that disrupt reading.
With computer ergonomics, how to prevent eye strain at work can be done correctly. Before discussing preventive eye strain tips, though, we need to know what causes computer eye strain to avoid its risks.
Primary Causes of Computer Eye Strain
- Frequent Focusing and Staring. This one is the most common cause of computer eye strain. The muscle in our eyes gets tired and strained whenever we work on computer tasks for an extended period.
- Screen Brightness. Desktop computer and laptop screens are bright for a reason. But an excessively bright computer screen can also cause frequent eye tiredness and headaches.
- Monitor Depth Perception. Desktop computers positioned too close to the eyes can make them sore and tired.
- Improper Lighting. A too dim or too bright workspace can affect your computer screen view. Poor lighting tires the eyes faster and forces you to squint and look more closely at the screen, leading to eye strain.
- Lack of Workspace Ergonomics. Another reason why computer eye strain develops is due to improper workspace arrangements. The solution? Computer ergonomics protect from eye strain. With it, you can arrange your computer and office layout in the most comfortable manner.
Computer Eye Strain Symptoms
Regular use of the computer and other similar electronic devices causes eye strain. Here are its symptoms:
- Red, dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain/back pain
- Eye irritation
- Double vision
Computer Eye Strain Complications
The use of digital devices like computers, laptops and smartphones exposes you to blue light. And if we stay careless, long-term exposure to blue light has critical consequences.
Specifically, blue light exposure can lead to the following conditions:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Retina problems
- Poor sleeping habits or patterns
Ways to Avoid Computer-Related Eye Strain
It’s a good thing that we can do something to avoid computer eye strain. Here are some best practices to protect your health and work productivity.
1. Mind the Lighting
Too bright or too dim lighting can cause eye strain. The ambient lighting in your workspace must be half as bright as those utilised in offices.
If your work area is too bright because of outdoor lighting, use blinds or drapes to block exterior light.
If lighting inside your workspace is too bright, replace them with bulbs or tubes with lower intensity. Avoid using too many bulbs, too.
Also, position the computer screen away from windows to avoid glare.
2. Adjust the Computer’s Display Settings
Modify your computer screen brightness to match it with your ambient lighting. Change the size of the text and the contrast for easy viewing. Reduce the colour temperature of the display to reduce blue light, too.
Arrange computer monitors and other similar work essentials at the eye level of the person using them. You know the positioning is correct when you do not have to squint your eyes or strain your neck.
3. Use Newer Monitor Technology
People now replaced their CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors with flat-panel LED ones for a good reason.
LED monitors are not prone to so-called “image flickers” usually seen on CRT. And these flickers are a primary cause of eye strain.
When selecting LED monitors, choose those with anti-reflective surfaces and have the highest screen resolution – a model with a dot pitch of 0.28mm or smaller is ideal.
Size matters as well. Good ones feature diagonal screen sizes of at least 48cm (19in).
4. Apply the 20-20-20 Rule
To avoid computer eye strain, office worker must refresh their eyes by performing the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the monitor every 20 minutes and view a distant object that’s 20 ft. away for 20 seconds.
This exercise prevents tiredness of the eyes and minimises computer eye strain risks.
5. Blink Frequently
Blinking is essential when using the computer as it moistens the eyes, preventing dry eyes and irritation.
The air around office spaces is also dry, increasing the risk of dry eyes. Minimise dry eye risks by blinking very slowly, about ten times every 20 minutes.
If you experience this condition, you can ask your eye doctor or optometrist for advice regarding the use of artificial tears.
6. Rearrange Your Workspace
With proper computer ergonomics, how to prevent eye strain at work is made simpler. You can adjust your computer screen to avoid sore, tired eyes.
Position the monitor around 4-5 inches below your eye level and 20-28 inches away from your eyes.
Make all of your work materials accessible by placing them in a document holder. The document holder should be the same distance and height as the monitor.
That way, there is no need to adjust your eye focus when working and looking at the computer screen.
Use a desk lamp if you need more light. Position the lamp in a way that it will not shine into the screen or your eyes.
7. Use Computer Glasses
You can request your eye doctor to adjust your prescription eyeglasses or request computer glasses that suit your needs.
Contact lenses can make eyes feel dry and tired during prolonged computer use. Computer glasses are good alternatives. This type of eyeglasses is also ideal for people who wear bifocals.
You can also ask your eye doctor about glasses with lightly-tinted lenses or photochromic ones that minimise blue light exposure.
8. Take Screen Breaks Every Now and Then
Taking screen breaks not only reduces computer eye strain risks but also minimizes risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), like neck and lower back pain. You can try doing 10-minute breaks every hour.
9. Get Advice from Your Optometrist
Seeing your eye doctor or optometrist every two years is good practice to maintain eye health. Go on regular check-ups to know what’s causing your eye strain exactly.
The eye strain you are experiencing may not be due to prolonged computer use. It might be because you need prescription glasses or have a different eye condition that requires another kind of treatment.
To avoid critical eye conditions, you need to change how you work and use the computer. For example, make sure your computer monitor’s display settings suit prolonged use.
Remember that computer ergonomics protect from eye strain. Have regular eye check-ups at least every two years as well.
These preventive measures not only maintains eye health but also helps you avoid irreversible eye problems later on.
1. Is computer vision syndrome permanent?
Computer vision syndrome is not permanent at all. And you can avoid it by modifying your screen habits.
These changes can also ease symptoms of the condition if you already have them. Make sure to consult your optometrist if symptoms worsen.
2. How can office ergonomics be improved?
Start working on office ergonomics by having a good working posture, minimising repetitive movements at work and taking regular breaks every hour.
Use adjustable desks and chairs and arrange computer set-ups correctly for comfortable use. The workplace must also have proper lighting, temperature and humidity to reduce disruptions.