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Dealing With Eyestrain
Staring at the Screen
- Blurred vision
- Soreness or pain in the eyeballs
- Watering eyes
- Dry or scratchy eyes
- Eyelids that feel heavy
- Neck or back pain
Eyeglasses May Help
General Tips for Preventing Eyestrain
- Lighting—Make sure you have sufficient lighting at work. Avoid florescent lighting directly in your field of vision.
- Lubrication—Blink your eyes frequently to keep them lubricated or try eye drops. You can use a lubricating artificial tear product without preservatives. If you select one with preservatives, avoid using more than four times a day.
- Eye breaks—Give your eyes a break by following the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take your eyes away from the computer and look at something 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes to refocus. You can also do other noncomputer-related work, like filing papers. Consider taking a walk outside or just close your eyes for a bit and relax.
- Air quality—Dry eyes can be prevented by using a humidifier, avoiding smoke, and turning down the thermostat in your work area.
- Massage—Massage your eyelids and the muscles over your brow, temple, and upper cheekbone. Do this once or twice a day.
- Sun protection—If you work outdoors, wear sunglasses that provide complete UV-ray protection.
- Rest—If the work you do involves driving a vehicle, pull over to rest your eyes at least once every two hours, more often if possible.
- Place your elbows on your desk.
- With your elbows still on your desk, turn your palms so they face upward.
- Allow your weight to fall forward. Let your head fall into your hands.
- Your eyebrows should rest on the base of your palms and your fingers should be fingers extended toward your forehead.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath through your nose. Hold for four seconds then exhale.
- Continue deep breathing for 15-30 seconds.
- Screen position—Position the computer screen at least 20 inches (51 centimeters) from your eyes, with the top of the computer screen at, or slightly below, eye level.
- Materials—Place materials you will be looking at while you are working on the computer as close to the computer screen as possible. This minimizes head and eye movement and the need for your eyes to refocus.
- Keyboard position—Place the computer keyboard directly in front of , and below, the computer screen.
- Glare filter—Place a glare filter or antireflection screen (glass is better than mesh) over your computer screen.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast levels on your computer monitor to make the picture clear and crisp. Make the focal points on the screen, such as text and/or diagrams, much darker than the background. Black type or diagrams on a white background are best.
- If you experience a flickering sensation from your computer screen, try lowering the screen's brightness control. If that does not work, consider getting a screen with a higher refresh rate.
- Place blinds or drapes on windows and keep overhead lighting low to minimize glare and reflected light.
- Set up your workstation so that bright lights are not in your field of vision.
- Avoid reflective surrounding surfaces, such as your desktop and the surrounding walls.
- Keep the computer screen surface dust free.
- When reading text on your computer screen, keep the text size at least three times the size of the smallest text you can read.
American Academy of Ophthalmology http://www.aao.org
National Eye Institute http://www.nei.nih.gov
Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfpc.ca
Canadian Ophthalmological Society http://www.eyesite.ca
Computers and your eyes. Prevent Blindness America website. Available at: http://www.preventblindness.org/computers-and-your-eyes. Accessed October 14, 2013.
Eye health tips. National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/eyehealthtips.asp. Accessed October 14, 2013.
Improving visual comfort at a computer workstation. CTD Resource Network, Inc. website. Available at: http://www.tifaq.org/articles/visual%5Fcomfort-jan99-jeffrey%5Fanshel.html.
Rosenfield, M. Computer vision syndrome. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2011;31(5):502-515.
Tribley J, McClain S, et al. Tips for computer vision syndrome relief and prevention. Work. 2011;39(1):85-87.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/14/2013