Lessen Eyestrain by Adjusting your Computer Screen

EyestrainDo you spend hours a day on the computer, at work, at home, or both?  If you’re staring at a screen for hours on end causing eyestrain, you are at risk for developing CVS.  Not to be confused with the pharmacy, CVS stands for Computer Vision Syndrome.

Also known as Digital Eye Strain, CVS is a condition, often temporary, resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display device for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time.  The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer, and then there’s the absorption in cell phones, tablets, and HD TV screens at home and on the go.

Symptoms of CVS include:

•    Eyestrain
•    Headaches
•    Blurred vision
•    Dry eyes
•    Neck and shoulder pain

A simple way to alleviate eye strain is to follow what the American Optometric Association calls the 20-20-20 ruleEvery 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to focus your eyes on something 20 feet away.  This practice gives your eyes routine respite from the digital screen and gives them a chance to refocus.  Additionally, to prevent dry eye, try to blink frequently to moisten the front surface of your eyes.

Eyestrain The American Optometric Association's 20-20-20 Rule

The American Optometric Association’s 20-20-20 Rule

Combating the Causes of Eyestrain

In addition to your 20-20-20 breaks, here are some other adjustment tips to avoid the eyestrain caused by poor lighting, positioning, glare, and screen settings.

Lighting & Brightness:  The computer screen should be about two times the brightness of your surroundings, which means you may need to adjust the screen brightness as the lighting around you changes with the time of day.  A great program that will do this automatically is f.lux.

Reduce Glare:  Position the screen to avoid glare, especially from overhead lighting or windows.  If you have the choice between a matte and glossy monitor, choose the matte screen, which will be less reflective.

Location of Screen:  Ideally, the computer screen should be about 20 to 28 inches from your eyes.  Also, from the center of screen, your view should be 15 to 20 degrees (4 to 5 inches) below eye level, since most people find it more comfortable to view the screen with eyes looking downward.

Font & Zoom:  Increase zoom of the display and/or increase font size if you are straining to see the type.  Black type against a white background is always easiest to read, and sans serif fonts (e.g. Calibri or Arial) require less work for the eyes than serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman).  You can go into settings or options in your browser(s) to adjust these things.

You can read more about CVS and combating eyestrain in this article from the American Optometric Association’s website:  http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y

Print 20-20-20 infographics from AOA for your office by downloading the pdf here.

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