If you spend hours each day working at a computer screen, you may experience eye strain or red, irritated eyes due to prolonged computer screen viewing. Eyes become irritated due to a reduced number of times that your eyes blink while you are staring at the computer, 9x/minute while on the computer vs. 15x/minute normally. You can set reminders to run on your computer that remind you throughout the day to blink your eyes and take breaks from viewing the screen.
Individuals may experience different symptoms of eye strain, including:
- Red, watery, irritated eyes
- Tired, aching, or heavy eyelids
- Problems with focusing
- Blurred vision
- Occasional double vision
- Muscle spasms of the eye or eyelid
While studies have found no indication that working on a computer screen causes permanent vision problems, short-term problems do bother many people who regularly work at computers.
These problems can usually be corrected by following these tips to help reduce your eye discomfort and fatigue:
- Place the computer or computer screens straight in front of you, not off to the side. A good rule of thumb is to have the top of the monitor level with your eyes, This creates a 10 degree angle which is the desired position.
- Place the screen at right angles to any windows to minimize glare.
- Adjust the screen angle to minimize reflections from overhead lights or desk lamps.
- Use drapes, shades, or blinds to control window lighting and glare. Vertical or horizontal blinds will direct light away from you and the computer.
- Keep the screen brightness the same or brighter than the brightness of other objects in the room.
- Set your computer to display black characters on a white background.
- Use an adjustable copy holder to keep reference material at the same height and distance away from you as the computer screen. This eliminates the need to change eye focus when looking from one to the other.
- Use a glare-reduction filter to enhance screen contrast and increase character legibility. Use a three-sided computer hood if glare continues to be a problem.
- Wipe the screen often with an anti-static cloth.
- Take periodic rest breaks. Every 15 minutes or so, look up and focus on a distant object for about two minutes.
- Blinking frequently and using artificial tear eye drops to relieve dryness and irritation can also help.
If you have redness, dryness, irritation, or intermittent blurred vision, these can all be symptoms of a decreased tear production. Artificial tears eye drops can help to soothe your eyes and relieve the symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to prevent eye fatigue and discomfort is to see a vision specialist. Consult your ophthalmologist or optometrist, as some individuals who normally do not need glasses may need corrective lenses for computer work, and remember these eye care essentials for computer users.