A majority of the modern workforce spends its time in front of computers eight or more hours a day. As a result, eye strain has become a common issue for employees. In fact, somewhere between 50 and 90 percent of computer workers report struggling with eye fatigue.
What is eye fatigue like?
Eye fatigue manifests itself in several different ways. It makes people physically exhausted. It suppresses productivity and increases errors. It can also cause red eyes and muscle twitches. The older you get, the more susceptible your eyes become to this strain. If you experience these symptoms, they can significantly impact your work life. You may feel like you can’t change things. After all, you need to make a living, and looking at a computer is how you do it!
We have good news for you: there are seven things you can do every day to find relief from eye strain while continuing to be productive. Read on to learn more!
1. Combat glare
The light from your computer screen is hard enough for your eyes to handle for hours on end. If ambient light glares off the glass or the walls around you, the straining effect can be doubled. There are several things you can do to improve the situation:
- Put an anti-glare screen on your computer monitor
- If you have the ability, tone down the wall colors with a dark, matte paint so they don’t reflect light so brightly.
- Again if you have the ability, cover the windows
- If you wear glasses, light can reflect off of the backs and fronts of your lenses, compounding the effect. Invest in glasses with an anti-reflecting coating that will reduce the glare you experience.
2. Fine-tune your display settings
Take a minute to observe what your eyes do when you focus on your computer monitor. Do they have to squint or strain at all? If you do, there are changes you can make to improve the situation. If your computer runs a Microsoft Windows system, you can adjust display settings in the Control Panel, sometimes called Settings. If you use an Apple computer, go to your Applications folder and find Systems Preferences. Other times, monitors have built-in buttons for adjusting their settings, so you might be able to do it from the monitor itself.
- Color temperature: the bluer the light from your screens is, the harder your eyes have to work. Blue light has a short wavelength and is connected to more eye strain than red or orange, which both have longer wavelengths. Tune your monitor on the warm side, and your eyes will thank you.
- Text size: Ensure that you can easily read the text on your screen. You don’t want your eyes to have to work at all, especially if you spend a lot of time writing or reading documents.
As you know, blinking is the main way your eyes get moisture. Without moisture, they get uncomfortable and irritated. Studies have shown that, ironically, people blink a lot less often when they work on computers–right when they need to be blinking the most. In fact, they may blink as little as one third as often as they normally do. Even worse, many of the blinks the happen in front of computer screens aren’t full lid closures.
Office environments are infamously dry, which just makes things worse for your eyes. We recommend you thoroughly re-wet your eyes every 20 minutes by slowly blinking 10 times. We’re talking as slowly as you would blink when falling asleep. You can also use artificial tears, just don’t use drops designed to reduce redness. These drops aren’t always formulated to combat dryness and won’t give you the benefits you need.
4. Upgrade your monitor
Chances are good that you aren’t working on a big, old tube-style monitor. Liquid crystal display (LCD) flat screens are standard. This is a good thing. The tube-style monitors tend to flicker, which can quickly strain the eyes. If, by any chance, you are using an outdated monitor, it’s time to leave it behind. Your eyes need a break! If it is impossible for you to upgrade, make sure your monitor is set to the highest refresh rate possible (always above 75 hertz).
If you have the ability to pick out your own flat screen monitor, we encourage you to keep the following things in mind:
- The higher the resolution, the better. Look for the term “dot pitch,” which refers to resolution. The smaller the dot pitch, the better the image. Buy a display that features a pitch of .28mm or smaller.
- Don’t worry about flicker. LCD screens are lit by backlights that usually operate at 200 hertz, a far cry from an old monitor’s 75.
- Refresh rate is generally not a concern on work computer screens. It refers to the frequency at which the screen receives new images from the video card, and it is not associated with eye strain.
- Go for larger displays. You don’t need your work squished onto a little display that forces your eyes to work harder. You want a screen that is at least 19 inches on its diagonal.
5. Give your eyes a little exercise
Forcing your eyes to focus on one thing for hours on end is one of the fastest routes to eye fatigue. Consistently doing this makes your eyes vulnerable to accommodative spasm, a condition in which your eyes actually lock up.
- You can use the 20-20-20 Rule, in which you take time every 20 minutes to gaze at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- You can also gaze at a faraway object for 10 seconds, switch to something close for 10 seconds, and then switch back to the distant object. Repeat this 10 times.
Whichever strategy you use, be sure you’re blinking a lot!
6. Modify your setup
Are you sitting too close to your monitor? Too far away? How is your posture? Do you often find yourself looking between printed pages and your screen? Do you have enough ambient light that your monitor doesn’t burn your eyes?
All of these are issues that can be addressed to the betterment of your eyes. Instead of laying printed pages in front of you, get a copy stand that can hold them up beside your monitor. Get a desk lamp if you need more ambient light. Make sure your chair and desk are at the right height for your size. Not only will your eyes appreciate it, your back, shoulders, and neck will also feel relieved!
7. Make sure the lighting is right
If the ambient light is too dark or too light, your eyes will struggle. Typically, your ambient lighting should be half as bright as your monitor. We just mentioned investing in a desk lamp if the ambient light is too dark. Shut out outdoor glare with curtains and, if you can, reduce the usage of fluorescent lights indoors. Fluorescent lights are infamous for straining eyes with their cold, harsh glare. Lastly, try to put main light sources besides you rather than in front or behind you.
At Guardion Health Sciences, we are passionate about eye health. We work hard to bring natural foods and medicinal science together, and that is how we produce our revolutionary medical food, Lumega-Z. Learn more about how our medical food can help your eyes be stronger than ever before!