After staring at your computer or laptop for hours, have you ever felt a throbbing pain in your head or have your eyes ever felt dry, itchy, or fatigued? There is a name for all these symptoms- Eyestrain. Be it for work or any other purpose, people are now spending more time staring at the computers or any other digital device. This puts extreme stress on your eyes. Many of you spend more than 10 hours staring directly at the computer. In addition to that, you would also stare at a smartphone or other portable digital device with a small screen and smaller prints which lead to closer viewing distances. Often, while doing so, you forget to blink. This decreases your visual comfort and strains your eyes.
How Computers Affect Your Eyes?
When you working on the computer you eyes have to continuously focus and refocus. The printed lines appearing on the screen are of varied shapes, fonts, and colours. AS you read the lines, your eyes have to move back and forth. Moreover, often you have to refer to printed material and then again look at computer screen. As the images change, your eyes have o react accordingly for your brain to understand what you are seeing. For doing this, your eyes have to work really hard and as a result, it gets tired. This gets worse if the screen has contrast, glare, and flicker issues.
You will have more trouble if you already have any eye problem. If you have glasses and if you do not use them, then it may escalate the problem. Moreover, wearing fancy contact lenses or glasses with wrong lenses that aren’t prescribed by the doctor will increase your eye troubles.
As you age, working on the computer or any digital device gets tough. Your eyes lose their flexibility. Also, as you approach your 40s, your eyes lose their ability to properly focus and refocus on objects both far and near. Eye specialists call this condition Presbyopia. Staring at the computer screen for long hours make your eyes weaker and affect your vision.
Reading something on a computer screen is completely different than reading something on a printed page. Letters on a computer screen are often not well defined or sharp. The level of contrast of the letters compared to their background is also reduced and the glare from your computer screen makes reading a difficult task. Moreover, the viewing distances and angles that you generally use for doing computer work is different from the angles that you use for reading books or printed documents and writing. And that is why the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for computer work make your visual system work hard. If you are in your 40s, your eyes will find it a bit difficult to adjust to this additional requirement. Even the eyeglasses or contact lenses that are prescribed for general use may not seem appropriate for computer-related work. You may need to get specialised lenses that are designed to meet such additional demands for your eyes. This lens with certain power, coating, and tints helps in maximising your visual abilities and your viewing comfort.
How to Reduce Eye Strain
Here’s a list of what you can do to minimise eye strain:
1. Minimise glare.
Change the lighting of your environment or work station. This will help reduce the effect on your computer screen. If you sit near a window, move away. It’s because the light from the window may cast a glare on the computer screen. You may install a dimmer or get a desk lamp with movable shade. This will cast light evenly on your desk or else, you may even add a glare filter to your monitor. Most of the times, excessively bright light from other light sources (harsh interior light or light coming through the window) cause eye strain. Technically, when you are using a computer, the ambient light should be half as bright as found in any office setting. Close the drapes and shades to minimise exterior light. Reduce interior light by using lower intensity lights. Position your computer of a laptop in a way that the windows are to your side and not behind you or just in front of you. Turn off any overhead fluorescent light. Often, this might be uncomfortable for your eyes.
2. Check your sitting Arrangement
The monitor should be slightly below your eye level. It should be about 20 to 28 inches away from your face. Ideally, while working n a computer, you shouldn’t be stretching your neck and get closers to the computer to see what’s written on the screen. If you have to look simultaneously at the computer and any other printed document, place the document in a way that you do not have to look down and the up to the screen while you type. Put a stand next to the computer and fix the document there.
3. Give your eyes some exercise
It’s your eyes and not a machine. They too need a break. So when you are working on the computer at a stretch, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the computer screen every 20 minutes and look at anything that’s at least 20 feet away from you. Look at it for about 20 seconds. Use eye drops if your eyes hurt. You may try another exercise. Look at any object located far away for 10-15 seconds and then look at something that’ located nearby for about 10-15 seconds. Then again look back at the objects located far away. Repeat this for 10 times. Often, staring for long times at the computer screen locks the eyes’ focusing ability also known as accommodative spasm. This exercise helps in avoiding this condition.
Both of these exercises will reduce your risk of eye strain. Blink frequently while performing these exercises.
4. Change your computer display settings
You don’t need to continue with the presets installed in your computer or laptop. You can change them if it’s uncomfortable for your eyes. Adjust the following things:
- Brightness: It should be about the same as the brightness of your surroundings. Look at the computer screen and then look at your surrounding background. If the screen appears like a light source, it’s too bright and if it’s too dull compared to the surrounding, the screen is too dark for comfortable viewing.
- The contrast and text size: Adjust the text size and contrast, especially when you are reading long documents. Black letters printed on a white background is best for comfortable viewing.
- Adjust the Colour temperature: The display of your computer emits blue light. This light has short-wavelength and causes more eye strain compared to longer wavelength colours such as red and orange. Lowering the colour temperature of your display reduces the amount of blue light emitted by it, thus increasing viewing comfort.
Source: http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome#1
5. Upgrade the computer display
Still using the old tube-style monitor (called a cathode ray tube or CRT)? If yes, then replace it with an LCD display. LCD screens have anti-reflective surface and also, do not have flicker issues. Flickering images increase eye strain. Flicker can also be an issue if the refresh rate of your screen is less than 75 hertz (Hz). In case you are still using a CRT screen adjust the display settings to the highest refresh rate. While buying new LCD display, get a screen that has the highest resolution. This is often related to the “dot pitch” of the computer display. Displays having a low dot pitch have sharp images. While buying, choose one with a display of a dot pitch of .28 mm or smaller. Choose a large display. Get a display having a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches.
6. Blink often
How often does it happen that you are so much into your work that you forget to blink? Is this common when you are working on a computer? If yes, then this might leave your eyes fatigued and tired. Not blinking while staring at the computer makes your eyes dry and itchy. Blink often to prevent this. Blinking moistens your eyes, thus reducing eye fatigue. The tear coating on your eyes evaporates quickly when you do not blink for a long time. And this is one of the main causes of dry eyes. Moreover, the air in your workstation may be dry, thus increasing the rate at which tears evaporate from your eyes. If you are experiencing dry eyes symptoms, then consult a doctor immediately. The doctor may prescribe you artificial tears for reducing the symptoms.
7. Take frequent breaks
Computer vision syndrome also results in shoulder, neck and back pain. To avoid this, take frequent breaks while working on your computer. Many of you take one or two long breaks during work hours. If you think this will reduce eye strain then you are wrong. This won’t help reduce discomfort. Instead of taking one or two breaks, take frequent 5-minute breaks in between work. When you take a break, stand up, stretch your legs, back, arms, and neck. This reduces muscle fatigue and tension. You may even talk to a fitness expert and get a list of the quick sequence of exercise you perform during the breaks.
8. Treat any uncorrected Vision Problem
Even a minor vision-related issue can affect your viewing comfort levels. Often, we tend to ignore minor vision related issues. Eye issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, binocular vision, presbyopia, and astigmatism if left untreated then can be a major contributing factor in increasing eye-related stress. Most of the computer users suffer from uncorrected vision problems. Most of these conditions often do not manifest themselves in works that are less visually demanding but appear while doing a visually demanding work. Most of the people tend to ignore this as a temporary problem. And this worsens the condition. If you work on a computer, you must undergo a comprehensive eye examination periodically. The examination must include an analysis of your eye function at various working distances.
9. Wear computer eyewear
This is necessary for the comfort of your eyes. Talk to your eye care specialist and get your glasses (if you use any) modified for maximum visual comfort. If you wear contact lenses then you should immediately do this. It’s because contact lenses often become dry and uncomfortable when used for a longer time. If you wear bifocals then also computer eyewear is a good option for you. Consider wearing photochromic lenses or lightly tinted lenses for computer viewing. This reduces your exposure to blue light emitted by the digital devices. Talk to your doctor today.
Take Care of Your Eyes
Follow these steps for healthy eyesight:
- Eat healthily: Good vision depends on getting enough nutrients. Eat food items with lutein, omega-3 fatty acid, Vitamin C and E. Eat lots of green leafy veggies, fish, citrus fruit, eggs, beans, and nuts.
- Do not Smoke: Smoking harms your eyes and damages the optic nerves. It also increases your chances of cataract and macular degeneration.
- Protect your eyes in the sun: Wear UV protected sunglasses whenever you go out. This reduces your chances of cataract and macular degeneration and other UV ray-related eye issues.
- Use protective wear: Whenever you are playing or doing any dangerous work, wear safety eye gear for protecting your eyes.
Regularly visit your eye doctor and get your eyes thoroughly checked. Do not avoid even the slightest discomfort that you may have in your eyes. You may need glasses or contact lenses or special glasses, let the doctor decide what’s best for your eyes. If you are looking for places where you may get your eyes thoroughly checked, you may consider booking an appointment with the experts at the Disha Eye Hospital.