A Site for Sore Eyes: Prevent Eyestrain at the Computer

Is constant computer use affecting your eyes? Learn how to use proper lighting to protect them from strain and soreness.

Do you spend most of your work day with eyes locked on a computer screen? It's a way of life for many, who then go home to more e-mails on their personal computers.

"The eyes have it" when it comes to being one of the top health complaints of computer users. Staring at a monitor for hours at a time can cause red, itchy, sore or dry eyes. You may have trouble focusing. Others may get headaches or eye fatigue.

Often, the problems stem from poor lighting or glare. The lighting in most offices is too bright for optimal viewing of computer screens. Bright lights shining on the display screen make it harder to read. Or sometimes, the person's regular reading glasses don't work as well for the longer distance to the monitor screen. Or the problem may have to do with how the person is sitting in relation to the screen. And all these things can be adjusted so your eyes don't take a hit.

Try this
Making changes to your equipment, your work space setup and lighting can all make a difference.

Reduce glare and reflection

  •  Place your monitor at a right angle from the window or main light source.
  • Use blinds or drapes on windows to shield bright light from your direct view.
  • Use several low-watt lamps rather than one high-powered one.
  • Position a desk lamp so the light does not reflect on the screen.
  • Tilt down the monitor slightly to prevent it from reflecting overhead light.
  • Clean your viewing screen. Dust can contribute to glare.
  • Use a glare screen or monitor shield that attaches to the screen.
  • Ask your eye doctor about getting light tints or an antiglare coating in your eyeglasses.

Diffuse lighting

  •  Turn off overhead lights when you can. Using a desk light is better for reading.
  • Dim the lights by replacing two bulbs in a four-bulb fixture with dimmer bulbs, or replace the bulbs in every other fixture.
  • Avoid intense or uneven lighting in your field of vision - especially brightness around your monitor.
  • Adjust computer settings to avoid high contrast between light and dark areas of your screen,
  • Choose light-colored, matte paint for walls and ceilings to reduce dark shadows and contrast.

 Position yourself properly

  •  If possible, choose screens that can tilt and swivel so you can choose the best viewing angle. Get a chair you can adjust, too.
  • Sit with the screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes.
  • Make the screen level with your line of sight or a little bit below eye level. The topmost line you read should not be higher than your eyes.
  • Place any document holder at the same height as the monitor. It should be close enough so you don't have to swing your head back and forth or shift your eye focus constantly.

Lastly, give your eyes a rest every hour while you're working. Catch up on another task that doesn't involve looking at the monitor. People who clock in many hours online should also be sure to get regular eye check-ups. Eye and vision problems do not have to be the cost of doing business at the computer.



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