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Computer Eye Strain: 6 Things You Can Do About It That Really Work

Updated on November 17, 2015

Most of us spend hours each day looking at a computer and other electronic devices -- for some of us, it’s our job -- and we suffer the consequences. Computer eye strain is a very real problem caused by bad habits and bad situations.

Would you believe that 50 to 90 percent of computer users have the same problems you do? That’s what some research has shown. Don’t worry though. You can do a number of things that really work to reduce your computer eye strain symptoms.

Still, I strongly suggest you get a professional eye exam if computer eye strain is bothering you. My eye doctor said dealing with issues related to computers is most of his business these days.

There’s lots of advice on the Internet about computer vision syndrome, dry eyes and related eye health issues, but it’s hard to know what advice to trust. Below are some proven things you can do to get your computer eye strain under control.

1. Get rid of glare.

If you have a modern computer monitor, you may not notice as much glare as there was with old CRT monitors. Still, glare from the screen and from nearby surfaces can be a significant problem.

Cover windows in your work area, if possible, and consider repainting or covering glaring walls. Then, get a pair of computer glasses, prescription eyeglasses or reading glasses with anti-glare or anti-reflective coating. This so-called AR coating can make a huge difference.

2. Change your display.

Imperceptible flickering of older picture-tube CRT monitors can be a problem. If the refresh rate is less than 75 hertz, you probably need a different monitor.

Even if you already have a modern flat-panel LCD computer monitor, you may not have the best model available. Resolution makes a difference. Cheap computer packages often come with cheap, low-resolution monitors. You also want the largest monitor your workspace can accommodate. In most cases, it needs to be at least 19 inches.

3. Change the contrast, text size and other settings.

When proofreading, typing long documents or doing other tasks that require looking at the same image for a long period of time, it’s important to make sure you have the best contrast, color and text size settings you can get.

Go for larger text, and consider switching to light-colored text on a dark background. You may find this easier on your eyes and therefore less likely to aggravate your computer eye strain symptoms.

4. Try to blink more.

For many computer eye strain symptoms -- including dry eyes, itching and scratchiness -- part of the problem is that you’re not blinking often enough. When we concentrate, we tend to blink less. Try intentionally blinking more, looking from your keyboard to you monitor more frequently and looking away whenever you can.

Some research shows that we blink only one-fifth as often when at the computer as we normally do. That allows our eyes to dry -- plus the already-dry air in our homes and offices makes the problem even worse.

5. Get some eye exercise.

Computer eye strain is also caused by doing the same thing for too long, so try looking away, getting up to look around and closing your eyes more often. Looking at a distant objects helps reduce the strain on your eye muscles and can relieve many of your symptoms.

Even better, switch between looking at nearby and faraway objects frequently during mini-exercise periods every 20 minutes or so. These exercises can loosen tight eye muscles and make them feel better.

6. Use some kind of computer eyewear.

Eyewear can do a number of things to reduce your computer-related symptoms. It can protect your eyes from drying winds, help reduce glare and provide just enough magnification to reduce the strain on your eye muscles.

If you already wear glasses, ask your optometrist about a special prescription for use only at the computer. If you don’t wear glasses, you may find that you can benefit from low power reading glasses or computer glasses.

Before It Gets Any Worse

Take the time to solve your computer eye strain issues before they get any worse. I waited longer than I should have, and I put myself through a lot of unnecessary pain and anxiety. Once I started using lubricating drops (another great tip) and low power reading glasses, I was able to get my symptoms under control.

I’m not saying my eyes never hurt anymore, but I can tell you this: Since I started paying more attention to my eye health, my life has gone nowhere but up.


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    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 5 years ago from Miller Lake

      Thanks so much for this informative hub I think I can SEE what your trying to say thanks for the tips! take care.