I love my computer. Really, I do. I remember getting our first computer when I was in high school (and I was one of the last people I knew to get one) and it was SUCH a big deal. I was obsessed. I spent HOURS on AOL, getting mad at my parents for picking up the telephone because it would disconnect me. Any other 80’s kids relate to the horror of hearing someone dial a number through your dialup connection? The panic you’d feel when you could hear the phone start ringing and you knew you were about to be disconnected? Kids these days have no idea how real that struggle was!
As much as I love my computer, I can’t help but think about how much they have changed society, and maybe not for the best. What if they are actually terrible for us? What if they are ruining our eyes and making us look like hunchbacks? What if they are the downfall of society???
Ok, I got carried away there. But seriously, being on computers all day can cause some problems.
With most of our lives being spent sitting on front of a computer, its no wonder that between 50% and 90% of people show some symptoms of eye strain, otherwise known as Computer Vision Syndrome. The symptoms include everything from headaches and dizziness to neck pain and double or blurred vision. Part of the problem is how much time we are spending in front of the computer, but because its unrealistic for most of us to stop because of our jobs, here are 10 ways you can help reduce the symptoms of eye strain right away.
Adjust your monitor’s position. The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. You want to be looking ever so slightly down at it, not up. Ideally it should be between 20 and 28 inches from your face.
Reduce screen glare. There unfortunately isn’t much you can do about harsh overhead fluorescent lights in the workplace, but if there is a window casting a bright glare, move your monitor around on your desk or put up a shade so that the glare is gone. You can also purchase a glare blocker for your screen.
Give your eyes a break. A well-known rule for making sure your eyes get the breaks they need is that 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can install programs on your computer to help you remember, such as Eyeleo, EVO, and Workrave.
Fine-Tune Monitor Color Settings. Super bright blueish-white screens can be a little hard on the eyes. Use a program like f.lux to remove some of the blue light coming from your computer to be easier on the eyes. Bonus-it’ll help you sleep better too by matching your monitor settings to the light inside your house at night!
Get some Gunnar glasses. These special glasses are a combination of a glare blocker over your screen and the program mentioned above. They come in several different styles and can even be made with your prescription, should you need one. The extra cool thing about Gunnars is that since they are on your face, they will automatically protect your eyes when you switch to your other digital devices.
Get an eye exam. 71% of people who suffer from eye strain have less-than-perfect vision. Many people are not wearing their correct prescription, and this puts unneeded stress on the eyes. Make sure your prescription is up-to-date.
Try self-massage or eye cupping. Massaging the area around the eyes can help relieve tension. Try rubbing your palms together to create some warmth, putting them over your closed eyes, and let them rest. (Maybe do this on break or in the bathroom, lest your coworkers think you’re a little crazy or that something terrible has happened!)
Remember to blink. This sounds like a no brainer, but when we get really focused on our work, we tend to blink less often, which dries out our eyes. Try blinking more, or at least getting some eye drops to help keep your eyes moist.
Eye exercises. During one of your eye breaks, try writing a letter with your eyes on a wall in front of you without moving your head. Or, pretend you are looking at the center of a clock. Look out to one hour mark without moving your head. Do this 10 times around the “clock”.
Keep your spine in line. Make sure you are using good posture! This will help prevent the neck and shoulder pain associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. Even better-get a standing or treadmill desk. You can build one yourself for about $250 if you are a home office user.