Eye strain is an issue that is only going to grow, as our reliance on technology increases. While many people spend their workdays looking at a computer screen, there are also smartphones, tablets and TV adding to eye strain.
Eye strain is generally caused by:
- Long periods focusing on a certain distance, such as while reading, using a computer or driving. Focusing on a close distance puts a particular strain on the eye muscles.
- Extended periods of exposure to bright light
- Extended periods trying to focus in dim light.
- Constant focus on digital screens: studies have shown people concentrating on screens blink only half as often as they normally would.
Symptoms of eye strain include:
- Sore eyes
- Difficulty focusing
- Red, itchy, irritated eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Neck, shoulder, back pain
While the symptoms are certainly troubling to a sufferer, they’re not usually associated with permanent damage. If you regularly work at a computer you should ensure you have regular eye exams, and mention your work to your optometrist, who can check for underlying issues.
Tips to reduce eye strain:
- Ensure your computer screen is 50-65cm from your eyes, and just below eye level
- Tilt the screen slightly downward to reduce glare
- Keep the screen clean and smudge-free
- Use an adjustable chair to help you maintain correct posture
- If you regularly work from a document, prop it up on a document stand next to your screen
- Make sure the main light source in the room is not shining directly onto your eyes, or onto the screen. Preferably it will be above and behind you
- Take regular breaks from your computer work, and try to focus on something distant, eg out the window, for a minute or two
- Try to remember to blink more frequently- even write a reminder on a post-it to stick on your screen!
- For relief of sore, dry eyes: soak a face washer in warm water, close your eyes and rest it on them for a few minutes