Wellness Wednesdays: Reducing computer eye strain

Most of us spend our days staring at a computer screen and computer eye strain is a major work-related complaint.

The basic symptoms include tired, itching and burning eyes. If these symptoms persist and are accompanied by headaches, discomfort and significant change in vision it is important to see a doctor.

There are also a few steps you can take to reduce the symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS):

  1. Get a comprehensive eye test: You should do this at least once a year to prevent or treat CVS. You will need to tell your doctor how often you use a computer (for work and personal use) and how far your eyes are away from the screen.
  2. Ambient lighting: When working on a computer, your ambient lighting should be half as bright as that typically found in most offices. Eye strain is often caused by excessively bright lights; both from outdoor sunlight coming in to the room or from harsh interior lighting. Close the curtains or blinds and rather opt for low intensity light bulbs over fluorescent tubes. If possible, avoid working under overhead fluorescent lights and instead use floor lamps that provide indirect light.
  3. Take eye breaks: When you are looking at a screen for a while this will change the way your eyes work; you will blink less often and a bigger surface area of your eye is exposed to the air. You should look to the distance every 15 minutes for a minute or two. This will allow your eye muscles to relax. It will also help to blink rapidly for a few seconds, refreshing the tear film and clearing dust from the eye surface.
  4. Minimise glare: Eye strain can also be caused by glare on walls, finished surfaces or your screen. Consider buying an anti-glare screen for your monitor and bright white walls should rather be painted in a slightly darker matte finish. If you wear glasses it is a good idea to purchase lenses with an anti-reflective coating.
  5. Upgrade your display: An old tube-style monitor (cathode ray tube or CRT) should be replaced with a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD). LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. The old-fashioned CRT screens can cause a noticeable flickering of images which causes undue strain.
  6. Bigger is better: Choose a relatively large display.

Do you have any tips to share? Please do so in the comments below!