Many of us do a job that involves a computer screen, and if we’re not working, we’re probably glued to some other device. While the issue is not so great for using your smartphone or tablet, digital eye strain (although it’s still relevant so don’t think you can ignore this article!) is something we don’t pay enough attention to. If you use a desktop or laptop for work and leisure, there are ways you can look after the health of your eyes.
1. Rest Eyes at Regular Intervals
One of the most obvious ways to avoid digital eye strain is simply to take a break from viewing the screen. A simple rule-of-thumb is to take a 20 second break every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away – the 20-20-20 rule. However, that’s pretty difficult to remember. There are programs available that will remind you, such as Eye Defender, which starts after a fixed interval. It runs visual training on the desktop screen, which is designed to relax the eyes. WorkRave is another app that reminds you to take breaks.
2. Keep the Proper Distance
Part of avoiding eyestrain involves keeping your eyes properly distanced from the viewing screen. This is important with phones, tablets, computer screens, and even TVs. For the average computer screen, the idea distance is from 20-40 inches. According to OHSA, viewing distances that are too long can cause you to lean forward and strain to see the text, while distances that are too short may make your eyes work too hard to focus. If more distance is needed, try putting the monitor in a corner, or pull the desk away from the wall a bit. Use an under-desk keyboard tray that pulls out and creates distance.
3. Use Proper Lighting
Generally, the monitor or screen should be the brightest light in the room. Ambient light should be about half as bright as light typically found in offices. Position your monitor or screen so that windows are to the side instead of in front or behind it. Try using full spectrum lights when possible because they most closely mimic natural outdoor lighting and are less harsh than florescent lighting. If that’s not possible, try to use reflected or diffused light. Some people find relief by adjusting the brightness of the monitor’s light to match the ambient light in the room.
4. Use Easy-to See Fonts
This includes font type, size and color. Font size should be large enough so that you don’t have to squint or move forward to read it easily. Avoid bright colors; they can be overly stimulating and tiring to your eyes. Fonts without serifs, such as Arial or Vernada, are better than those with serifs (tiny tails at the end of each letter), such as Times New Roman. Text size should be three times the smallest font you can see from a normal viewing position. Black text on a white background tends to cause less eye stress.
5. Reduce Glare and Dust on Monitors and Screens
Dust and grime can diffuse the pictures and fonts on the screen enough to force your eyes to squint and overcompensate for the fuzziness. Clean screen frequently to avoid these problems. Glare occurs when light is reflected off of surfaces, like a computer or TV screen. You can either get rid of the glare or filter it before it gets to your eyes. To get rid of the glare, install an anti-glare screen, paint walls with a matte paint, or position your work surface at a 90 degree angle to the source of the glare.
6. Use Computer Glasses
Consider getting a pair of computer glasses, which are available as both prescription and non-prescription. If you have a prescription, you can also get your glasses with an anti-reflective coating. These non-reflective glasses minimize the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your lenses. Other options include polarized sunglasses that can be found in sporting goods stores.
7. Position Screens Properly
This is a case of good ergonomics. A poor angle on the computer monitor can affect more than your eyes; it may also affect your neck and back. While it’s important to create the proper distance, it’s also important that the angle of the screen be correct. Your gaze should be slightly downward toward the center of the screen, creating an angle of about 15-20 degrees, and at no time should the angle be more than 35 degrees.
Ladies, you only have one pair of eyes. Look after them! Is eye strain something that concerns you?