Most of your interaction with a computer doesn't consist of your hands on the keyboard or mouse. Truthfully, it's your eyes reading and reacting to what's on the screen in front of you, whether you're working or streaming a movie. All those hours of screen time can add up to tired, bleary eyes if you're not careful, and eyestrain can seriously cut into both your fun and your productivity. A few relatively simple tips can counter that, and help keep you focused.
1. Blend In
A modern flat-panel display can provide an excellent viewing experience in almost any lighting, from near-darkness to full daylight. Matching your screen's brightness levels to the ambient light in your room is one key to preventing eyestrain. It's also easy to test. Just hold a piece of bright white paper alongside your screen. If your screen is brighter than the paper, turn down its brightness. If your screen is darker, turn it up.
2. Beware the Glare
Glare reflecting from your computer screen can also cause eyestrain. The anti-glare coatings on modern monitors help, but won't eliminate it entirely. Try turning your monitor slightly left or right, to avoid troublesome light sources, or adjust your viewing angle. Switching off a problematic overhead light, and relying on your desk lamps for illumination instead, can also be helpful. If you cope with a significant challenge, such as a large, sunny window behind you, consider turning your workstation to cut down the glare.
3. Keep Your Vision 20/20...20
Tiny muscles in your eyes control their focus, and they appreciate the opportunity to relax just as much as the muscles in your legs and arms do. The Mayo Clinic suggests following the "20-20-20" rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your computer for at least 20 seconds, focusing on an object at least 20 feet away. Take time during some of those breaks to walk away and do something entirely different. Your body will thank you, too.
4. Find the Right Distance
Maintaining the right distance from your screen is important, too. A distance of 20 to 24 inches, or up to 30 for a large monitor, is usually appropriate. If the screen is too close, its brightness can irritate your eyes, while if it's too far away you might find yourself squinting to read it properly. Ideally your eyes should be level with the top of the screen, so you don't have to look up or down to read. If necessary, raise the monitor slightly by resting it on a book.
5. Lose Your Blues
If you regularly switch between computers at work, or between a home and a work computer, you might find that some displays seem to strain your eyes more than others. There are a lot of possible reasons for this, but one is the "temperature" of the display. The blue tints that make your screen look cooler, in color terms, tend to be harder on your eyes. You can reduce the percentage of blue light through your monitor's manual or automatic color settings. It's easier, and smarter, than buying your pharmacy out of eyedrops.
6. Upgrade Your Hardware
The screen that came with your computer, or was built into your laptop, is probably perfectly acceptable. Still, that display is where your eyes spend their time. Give them a break by upgrading to something larger and higher-resolution, such as a UHD monitor. The added resolution provides sharper text and crisper images, while the increased screen size keeps your menus, text and icons large and readable. Why squint, when you don't have to?
7. Stick to What the Doctor Ordered
If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, make a point of keeping your prescription up to date. Even if you have a state-of-the-art monitor and do everything else right, an outdated pair of prescription specs can leave your eyes tired and burning by the end of the day. If you find yourself with frequent eye fatigue and you've ruled out other causes, it might be time for a trip back to the optometrist.
Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media
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