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How To Combat Computer Eyestrain

Posted // Wednesday, November 27, 2013
By: Dr. Dan Hennessey

For many of us, staring at a computer screen takes up the majority of our day. Even after coming home from work, we switch on our laptops and tablets to relax. However, all of this screen time is straining our eyes. Studies show that between 50 and 90% of people who work at a computer have some symptoms of eye trouble, ranging from dry eyes to blurred vision and headaches. Recently, I joined Tom Brannon on air for THV Channel 11’s Medical Monday segment to discuss how to combat computer eyestrain, especially in the workplace. You can watch the interview below and learn more by reading further down.

Can computers actually cause damage to your eyes?

Computers can definitely cause strain to your eyes. Our eyes were not built to stare at screens for hours on end. Normally, we blink 18 times a minute, which naturally refreshes our eyes. But when we’re staring at a screen, we blink half as often as we should. Also, we are typically viewing smaller text sizes and images, and we strain our eyes trying to read it.

What are some of the effects of computer-caused eyestrain? 

Dry, itchy and irritable eyes are certainly among the most common effects. Since we’re not blinking as often as we should, our eyes dry out quicker. It can also cause increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders or back.

For those who work in front of screens, what can they do to their computer to ease the strain? 

For starters, place the screen 20-26 inches away from your eyes and slightly below eye level. Angle your screen to see no reflections and remove smudges to reduce glare. Also, change your screen settings to zoom in closer on documents and web pages.

What are other helpful hints for reducing eyestrain?

Remember your 3 Bs: Blink, Breathe and Break. When staring at a screen, try to blink often to keep your eyes fresh. Steady breathing relaxes eye muscles, and during times of stress, we often hold our breath. So keep your breathing consistent. And take 20-second breaks every 20 minutes to stare at something 20 feet away. We call that the 20-20-20 rule.

If you are experiencing eyestrain due to computers, it’s always good to schedule an exam with your eye physician. A quick exam can make sure your computer isn’t causing serious damage to your eyes. Little Rock Eye Clinic has same-day appointments to help fit your schedule too.