Tips to Reduce Eye Strain at the Office

Tired woman in glasses, rubbing her eyes while sitting in an office behind a computer screen.

If you spend the majority of your work week behind a computer, you’ve probably noticed the symptoms of digital eye strain, which can include eye fatigue, dryness and burning, blurred vision, an aversion to bright lights, and even insomnia and headaches. To help reduce eye strain at the office, follow these helpful tips.

4 Ways to Protect Your Eyes from Computer Use

Here are 4 things you can do every day to keep your eyes refreshed and healthy while using a computer.

  1. Use Artificial Tears

Did you know that the average person blinks 15 times per minute? Blinking keeps our eyes from getting dry and irritated by evenly spreading our tears over the eye’s surface. Unfortunately, when we stare at a computer screen, we tend to blink 50% less. In addition, most office environments are dry, causing tears to evaporate faster. To help prevent dry eyes, use lubricating eyes drops or artificial tears, and consider getting a desk humidifier.

  1. Give Your Eyes a Break

The focusing muscles in our eyes need a break just like any other muscle in the body, so it’s important to periodically change our focus from up close to far away. Using what many eye doctors refer to the “20-20-20” rule, look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds. A longer break of 15 minutes it also recommended after every 2 hours of prolonged computer use – and no, picking up your smartphone doesn’t count. Instead, make a phone call, take a walk or simply get up and stretch.

  1. Modify Your Workstation

Poor lighting and sitting too close or too far from the computer can also contribute to eye strain. Ideally, your monitor should be at arm’s length, approximately 25 inches from your eyes, and just slightly below eye level. The lighting in your office space should match the brightness of the screen. Opt for incandescent or halogen lighting instead of overhead fluorescent bulbs, and position your monitor so that windows are to the side, instead of in front of or behind you.

  1. Adjust Your Display

The brightness of your screen, text size and color combinations can all affect how hard your eyes have to work. Luckily, these settings can be adjusted manually in your Microsoft Windows Control Panel or Apple display settings. When reading or writing long documents, black ink on a white background is recommended, and the general rule of thumb for font size is three times larger than the smallest font you can read from your normal viewing position. To test your screen brightness, open a blank Word document. If it glows like a light source, it’s too bright, and if it’s dull or gray, it’s too dark.

More Tips for Office Workers

In addition to these tips for preventing digital eye strain, it’s important to get your eyes checked once a year by an eye care professional and seek medical attention for eye issues that do not improve or worsen over time.

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