Some people spend a good portion of the day sitting in front of a computer, and it may be affecting their eyes. The symptoms of computer-related eyestrain can be distressing, but there don’t seem to be any long-term effects. The short-term effects can be corrected and usually prevented.
Symptoms of computer-related eyestrain:
- tired eyes
- sore, burning, itchy or red eyes
- dry or gritty eyes
- neck aches and sometimes backaches
- difficulty focusing clearly on the images on the screen
- difficulty adjusting focus back and forth between print documents and the screen
- blurry vision
It would be nice if you could just plunk your monitor down on your desk and type away. But finding an eyestrain-free arrangement can be a complex task, requiring adjustment of numerous aspects of your setup. Fortunately, you may not need to address every single detail; correcting just a few items may be all it takes to eliminate your eyestrain.
- Position the monitor at eye level or slightly below. Don’t put it on top of your computer unless you are very tall.
- Position your keyboard in front of the monitor, so that you are looking straight ahead as you type.
- The monitor should be about arm’s length away — 20 to 30 inches.
- Source materials should be in a document stand next to the monitor, at the same height.
- Don’t hunch toward the screen. Use a chair with good back support.
- Clean the screen, monitor and work area often. This will reduce glare and eye-irritating dust.
- Blink! Staring at the screen can cut the normal number of blinks by more than half. Blinking will lubricate and protect your eyes.
- Give your eyes frequent breaks. Thirty seconds every 10 minutes should be adequate. Use the break to look away from the screen and close your eyes for a few seconds. Periodically stand up, stretch and walk around. Don’t worry — this will improve — not reduce — your productivity.
- Eliminate glare by moving your computer so that a window is not directly behind or in front of you. Use natural light whenever possible, and turn off fluorescent lights that are directly overhead. If you can’t do that, place an incandescent lamp to your left or right, out of your line of sight.