With so many people using computers, tablets and smartphones for everything from work, to watching films, to playing games, it is not surprising that eye strain is becoming an increasing problem.
When using a computer at work, it can be difficult to take a break, and a high proportion of users have revealed symptoms consistent with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), and related complaints.
Symptoms include tiredness, blurred vision, a decrease in productivity, making mistakes, as well as twitching and red eyes.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms while using a computer, there are a number of things you can do to gain relief.
It is important to have regular eye tests. This will mean that your vision will be checked, but also the general health of your eyes. Your optician will be able to provide advice about the best way to take care of your eyes, especially when using a computer for long periods. If you need glasses, anti-reflective lenses can be more comfortable than normal ones.
Ensuring you are physically healthy can also have an impact – make sure you are getting enough vitamins, even if you have to take a supplement. This will help you, and your eyes, to remain as healthy as possible.
Eye strain can be caused by lighting that is too bright, whether natural or artificial. If possible, position your computer so your windows are to the side, and close the curtains or blinds when the sun is very bright. Also make sure that your internal lighting is not too bright. Avoid fluorescent lights if possible, in favour of lamps.
Glare on surfaces and walls, as well as reflections in your computer screen, can affect the eyes. Anti-glare screens can be purchased for your screen, and painting walls a darker colour – with matte paint – can also help.
If you don’t already have one, get a flat monitor at least 19 inches in size, with an LCD display, at a high resolution. These usually have anti-reflective screens, and do not flicker like older screens do, which can itself cause eye strain.
The screen should not be so bright it looks like a light source, or so dull that it looks grey. For writing, black words on a white background are best.
When using a computer, most people blink less than usual. As blinking moistens your eyes, not doing so as often can cause dryness and irritation. If you do have this problem, remember to blink as much as you usually do, and use lubricating eye drops if needed.
It is important to take regular breaks from your computer screen. As well as your eyes, this will also give your neck, back and shoulders a rest.
While working, stop every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds staring at something 20 feet away. This will give your eyes a break from the screen, and give them a chance to focus on something further away.
One of the most important ways you can minimise the risk of eye strain is making sure that your desk is set up in the most appropriate way for your needs. Use an adjustable chair so you can position at the correct height, so you do not have to strain to see your screen comfortably.
Eye strain can be very frustrating, but following these suggestions can reduce your discomfort greatly.