Many of us work on a computer, phone, or tablet all day every single day. Whether you’re at the office, at home, or at school, you’re probably using one of these devices most of your day. While we hear that we should put down our smartphones or step away from the computer, sometimes we don’t have a choice if it’s related to work or school. However, it’s still important to protect your eyes against computer strain. In this article, we will discuss what happens to your eyes when you stare at screens too long and ways to protect your eyes against computer strain.
What’s So Bad About Computer Screens?
Computer screens, phone screens, tablet screens, and other screens that we look at all day long have a few problems. One of the problems is blue light instead of a warm light. Have you ever unplugged your laptop and noticed that the screen got dimmer? Did you notice that your eyes hurt a little less looking at it? This is relatively the same concept. Blue, bright line strains the eye because we are basically looking at a bright screen all day. The blue light can also disrupt your sleep cycle because your body thinks that it is still day time.
Screens can also flicker, have a glare, and have small text that you may have to zoom in on or squint to see. When you see a glare on your computer screen, whether from the window behind your desk or the light above or beside you, you will have trouble seeing what’s on your screen. If you can’t find a good position to put your laptop into that avoids this, you’ll spend a lot of time during your day craning your neck to see words, moving your laptop, and squinting at your screen. Closing the blinds might be a simple solution, but if you work in an office with large windows this is not usually an option and just contributes to your eye strain. Additionally, varying sizes of text across platforms, websites, and documents you are opening can cause you to have additional eye strain trying to see the letters. This is especially true when there are multiple different sizes and styles on one page.
Solutions to Computer Strain on Your Eyes
While the best solution is to obviously not use your computer, phone, or tablet as much, these are not viable options for most people. Instead, we will focus on what you can do to minimize the computer strain that you are causing your eyes by staring at screens. To combat computer eye strain, you should change your screen temperature, use proper posture and distance from your screen, and take breaks.
As previously mentioned, most computer and phone screens give off a blue light. This light can cause eye strain and even disrupt your sleep schedule over time. Instead of dealing with this day in and day out, you have a few options. The first is to talk to your optometrist about trying special yellow tinted glasses or anti-glare glasses for your computer work. These will reduce eye strain in the long term. Your next option is a little simpler: go to the settings on your display and change your color temperature from cool to warm. While you may find the resulting colors a little different from what you’re used to, you may also notice a positive change in your eye strain problems and maybe in your sleep schedule as well.
Proper Posture and Distance
We’ve all heard it, but having proper posture can really make a difference in whether or not you have eye strain. If you’re slumped over, looking up at your computer, you may have to squint to see thing against a glare. Additionally, if you are too far away or too close up to your screen, you can cause yourself additional computer strain on your eyes through squinting at small text or by having the screen so close to your eyes for long periods of time. When both good posture and screen distance are combined, there is an easy formula to remember. Your screen should be about an arms length away from you, and you should try to keep relaxed but upright. Make sure to roll your shoulders and get up to take short walks every once in awhile as sitting for long periods of time can cause a whole other host of health problems.
This may seem like the easiest (or the hardest) option for most people, but it doesn’t need to be anything but a very short break away from staring at your computer. Every 20 minutes to half an hour, take a few moments and look away from your computer screen for a minute or two. Write down an appointment on your calendar, write down a telephone message for a coworker, or organize your file drawers. Take a break and don’t look at the screen for a minute or two. Even just these very short breaks can be a huge help to your eyes as you will let them rest for a little bit. If it seems impossible to take that break, that’s okay. You’re not necessarily doing your eyes any permanent harm at the computer, but you should strive to take breaks from your phone or computer once you get home for the day to even this out.
Dr. Clifford Myers, MD Eye Care Center is Here to Help
If you are having trouble with computer strain on your eyes, it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Clifford Myers at our Eye Care Center. We can work with you to find practical solutions for your unique situation, and suggest advice and tips for working with your job or school responsibilities instead of against them. If this sounds like you, give us a call today and we’ll get you scheduled!