Seeing Things Clearer: Avoiding Computer Eye Strains

by Wellness Editor – MH

 

Have you noticed that your eyes have been feeling tired, fatigued and sore lately? If you spend most of your workday in front of a computer monitor, the culprit behind your weary eyes might have been staring you right in the face the whole time. Far from being imagined, computer eye strains are a real condition that affects countless numbers of Americans. If you are among the millions of workers who spend their day glued to a computer screen, it would certainly be beneficial to learn some techniques to keep your eyes feeling fresh and focused.

In this technology driven era, computer eye strains have become a common medical problem. According to multiple studies, some 50 to 90 percent of office workers experience some kind of computer-related eye fatigue and pain. The effects of computer eye strains go beyond making eyes tired and weak. After spending countless hours staring at a computer monitor, employees are more prone to making errors, and exhibit a decreased level of productivity.

If your job relies heavily upon the use of a computer, take heart – there are a number of easy-to-learn tips you can follow to prevent wear and tear to your eyes. We here at Natural Knowledge 24/7 have compiled a list of such techniques, which you can read about in detail below – just make sure not to strain your eyes while doing so!

 

Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly – Like many health-conscious people, you probably take your body in for its annual check-up at the doctor’s office. The same type of maintenance and care should be applied to your eyes. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that workers who frequently use computers undergo a comprehensive eye exam once per year. If you are about to begin a job that requires extensive use of a computer, make sure to have your eyes thoroughly examined. This advice is especially pertinent for those who have not previously held jobs that emphasized computers.

 

Proper Lighting is Key – Does your office ever seem to be excessively bright? If the answer is yes, you have likely just stumbled across another reason for your weary eyes. The light surrounding your computer should only be about half as bright as the computer monitor itself. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to eliminate excess lighting.

First, close the blinds, drapes or shades in your office. The position of your monitor also makes a significant impact as to the amount of light that hits your eyes. Ideally, the windows in your office space should face the sides of your monitor. Florescent lights might be energy efficient, but they are also fairly taxing on your eyes. If your supervisor allows for it, turn off the nearby florescent lights and replace them with floor lamps. Before plugging them in, make sure that your lamp emits incandescent or halogen light – your eyes will thank you for it!

If your supervisor nixes your ideas for alternative lighting, don’t feel discouraged – there are certain types of florescent lights that minimize computer-related eye strains. “Full spectrum” florescent light bulbs provide lighting that mimics natural sunlight, thereby reducing stress on the eyes of office workers.

 

Cut Down on Glare – Glare can attack an employee from many angles; you can easily find it coming from your walls, finished surfaces and your computer screen. The glare from your monitor can be fully neutralized with an anti-glare screen, a relatively cheap investment that will pay immediate dividends. As for overly bright walls and surfaces, the answer can be found in a very conventional solution – in this case, a simple paint job. Assuming your office supervisors grant you approval to do so, paint the surrounding walls in your office space a darker color. Once the walls are fully painted, ask for a matte finish. By scattering incoming light in all directions, a matte finish should noticeably reduce the amount of wall glare in your work environment.

 

Replace Outdated Monitors – Many employees toil away using tube-style monitors, an antiquated type of computer screen that can cause on-screen images to flicker. While this might seem to be an inconsequential flaw of old-fashioned computer technology, flickering images are actually a leading cause of eye strains. These “flickers” can temporarily damage your eyesight even when they are invisible to the naked eye.

Modern computer screen have provided an answer to this problem in the form of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens. Originally used for laptop computers, LCD screens are now a common component of desktops. LCD screens prevent “flickers” with the use of a backlight, which creates an internal source of light to illuminate the computer screen. When shopping for an LCD monitor, try to purchase one that has a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches.

 

Become Familiar With Your Computer’s Display Settings – This piece of advice might sound complicated, but it actually refers to simple mechanisms for adjusting your monitor’s brightness and color contrast. Display settings also encompass text size and contrast.

It is especially easy to gauge the proper amount of light for your monitor; simply look at the light given off by your immediate surroundings, and set your monitor’s brightness level accordingly. If your computer screen appears to be emitting more light than your office walls, reduce its level of brightness. Conversely, increase the brightness of your monitor if it appears dull and gray.

When it comes to text contrast, a simple approach works best. In other words, opt for black text against a white background. Other colors that provide similarly sharp contrasts are also acceptable; for instance, navy blue against light yellow is also a solid choice. Refrain from using texts colors and backgrounds that tend to blend together, such as orange text against a beige backdrop. Text backgrounds that consist of stylish patterns should also be avoided.

A monitor’s color contrast involves the spectrum of visible light produced by the computer screen. Generally, short-wavelength blue lights are considered the most harmful color for eyes, whereas long-wavelength red and orange lights are less burdensome. By simply lowering the color temperature of your monitor, you will greatly reduce the amount of stress placed upon your eyes.

 

Just Blink – Here’s a simple tip – every 20 minutes, try blinking ten times in quick secession. For maximum effectiveness, close your eyes as if you were going to sleep. This technique serves to moisten dry eyes, a common problem amongst office workers. According to research, humans blink at a significantly slower rate while logged onto their computers. Specifically, a person at a computer will blink five times less than normal. This lack of blinking steadily wears away the tears coating the eye; as a result, the worker may suffer from a condition known as dry eyes. The aforementioned blinking technique should lubricate the eyes with fresh tear coatings.

 

Exercise – It Also Helps Your Eyes – When it comes to exercise, most people think about working out their arms, legs, upper bodies and abs. What many workers fail to realize is that their eyes are another body part that benefits from a regular tune-up. One such activity is referred to by optometrists as the “20-20-20” rule. To perform this exercise, simply look an object roughly 20 feet in the distance. Hold your stare for about 20 seconds, and then resume your work.

If you are interested in a more prolonged workout, stare at a relatively distant object for about 10 to 15 seconds. Immediately afterward, spend an additional 10 to 15 focusing your eyes on an item close by. Finally, turn your eyes back to the far away object. Repeat this technique ten times for optimum effectiveness. Remember to blink constantly during these activities. Combined, these exercises help to keep computer eye strains at bay.

 

Take Mini-breaks When Possible – Usually, an employee is allotted a 15 to 30 minute break to break up the monotony of the workday. If possible, see if you can take five-minute “mini-breaks” for your eyes during your shift. Refresh yourself during your break by stretching your arms, necks, back, neck and shoulders. Standing up from chair can also give your eyes much-needed rest, as well as taking a take a quick walk.

 

Assemble a More-Efficient Work Station – Do you find yourself frequently looking back and forth between a computer monitor and a printed document? If the answer is yes, then you might experience noticeable eye strains from performing such movements. This annoying problem is actually quite avoidable; just purchase a basic copy stand and place it next to your monitor. With your copy stand in place, you will be able to pin up printed documents right next to your monitor.

Buying a copy stand is only the first step towards crafting an eye-friendly work station. Place an office lamp next to your copy stand to illuminate it during the evening hours. Posture is important as well; sitting in a slumped-over position by your computer can place excessive stress on your eyes. You also might consider purchasing ergonomic office equipment that positions your computer monitor 20-24 inches from your face (ergonomic equipment refers to products that have been specially modified to enhance bodily comfort, thereby increasing productivity). While it might take some trial-and-error guesswork, try to position the center of your computer screen 15 to 20 degrees below your eyes.

 

Pick Up Some Computer Eyewear – It might sound a bit futuristic (or, depending on your point of view, a bit strange), but specialized “computer glasses” have been developed to assist those suffering from computer-related eye strains. If you wear contact lenses, this type of eyewear might prove especially useful, since contact lenses often become dry and irritable after prolonged exposure to computer screens.

Workers who rely upon bifocals or progressive lenses also stand to benefit from computer glasses. These types of lenses often prove to be ill-suited for jobs that require long hours at a computer. Of course, it is best to consult with your doctor and optometrist before purchasing a pair of computer glasses.

Computer eye strains impact millions of American office workers each day. While a persistent nuisance, eye strains can be reduced and possibly avoided through common-sense adjustments to your personal work space and daily routine

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