An aching lower back, sore neck or tired arms are all signs you may have spent too much time on your computer and that it’s about time you stood up, stretched and took a break. When it comes to your eyes though, it’s not as easy to tell that you have had enough. That’s until you struggle to focus on a random line of text on your screen or have an unexplainable headache.
Headaches, dry eyes, inability to focus and a heightened sensitivity to light are signs of eye strain due to staring at your computer for extended periods without breaks. Here are a number of tips on how you can avoid or minimize eye strain.
1. Adjust Screen Contrast and Brightness
Your eye strain could simply be due to your monitor being adjusted wrong. It may not even be because you or someone else has played around with the settings. You’ll be surprised by how horrific default settings can be. So before you do anything else, go to the monitor’s settings and adjust the contrast and brightness until you have a balance that’s easy on the eyes.
Start off with darker-colored and neutral tones with low contrast then work your way toward a color that’s closest to reality but that doesn’t agitate your eyes. Note that certain situations won’t get any better even if you adjust the monitor settings — like a log server or website that places gray text on a black background (in which case, you may have to copy and paste onto a word processor or text editor the section of text you are interested in).
2. Adjust Room Lighting
Even if your monitor has the right settings, the room’s lighting can create an environment that causes or exacerbates eye strain. If the room is dark, your eyes have to make a sharp adjustment between the brightness of the screen and the surrounding darkness every time you look away.
If the room is overly bright, it causes a glare on the computer screen especially if the light source is behind you. Position monitors in a way that shields them from direct sunlight. Ensure the natural and artificial lighting is of just the right quantity to facilitate comfortable viewing. Using a contact lens from https://www.contactlensesplus.com/ with blue light feature can also help in maintaining your good eye health.
3. Enlarge Text
If you are finding it hard to read text on your computer screen and have to bend forward or squint, you should consider enlarging the text size.
When using word processors, text editors, spreadsheets, PDF readers, internet browsers and other applications that require you to read a lot of text, you can either increase the font size or magnify the window until it’s comfortable to read when you are seated upright.
4. Read Offline
We are in the age of the paperless office where documents are shared and read electronically in order to minimize the use of printing paper (thereby saving trees). However, few offices have managed to go completely paperless. You likely have a home or office printer.
Ergo, whenever you have to read a lengthy email, document or article, print it out and read it offline. It takes your eyes off the glare of your computer screen but without taking you away from work. If you want to avoid printing the document, you can send it to a suitable e-reader such as Kindle (i.e. one that doesn’t require backlight).
5. Take Regular Breaks
Your computer is a machine and can be used for days, weeks or months without a break. However, you are not a robot and cannot work nonstop. You need breaks to rejuvenate your body, refresh your mind and rest your eyes. One recommended approach is to follow the 20-20-20 rule which means taking a 20 second rest after every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away or more.
However, the 20-20-20 rule isn’t always practical. Work can be so engrossing that even if you set a reminder to prompt you to take the scheduled break, it’s unlikely you’ll religiously adhere to the rule. Instead, take a water cooler or restroom break every 45 minutes to one hour. It’s more realistic and doable.
Many desk jobs require you to sit in front of a computer the whole day. That doesn’t mean that eye strain is an inevitable problem you must learn to live with. By following the above tips, your work time will not affect your eyesight.