Computer use has become more and more prominent in recent years, meaning many more of us spend a lot more time in front of a screen. The rise of the modern office, the prevalence of online professions and the popularity of home computers, smartphones and tablets have resulted in millions of people all over the world spending huge chunks of time staring at a lit screen, both at home and at work.
So how does this prolonged computer use affects our eyes and vision? We’d all prefer not to think about it, but the truth is that spending hours in front of a screen can have an adverse and profound effect on our sight, as the muscles in the eyes are required to work much harder to view things at close range. Extended computer use, especially without a break, can result in a straining of the eye muscles, which in turn can lead to headaches, blurred vision and eye fatigue.
The obvious solution to this is to take some time away from the screen, ideally minimising the amount of time you spend looking at a computer, smartphone or tablet. However, for many of us this simply isn’t possible, particularly if you rely on computers for your day to day work. So what steps can we take to reduce the dangers of prolonged computer use?
The first thing we can do is to make changes to the ambient light in the room we’re working in. Using desk lamps with shades is a good start, and removing (or dimming) overhead lights can also mean our eyes don’t need to work as hard. Similarly, you should try and control the amount of natural light reflecting off the screen by placing blinds or drapes over windows. If you can’t control the amount of natural or artificial light (for example in a large, shared office), you can achieve the same effect by tilting your computer screen in order to reduce glare, or by investing in a glare-reducing screen overlay. Don’t forget you can also tweak your brightness and contrast settings on your monitor to try and lessen the strain on your eye muscles.
Altering your work habits can also help protect your eyes, particularly if you’re working solidly with a computer screen every day. Remember to take regular breaks when you’re working – a good rule of thumb is 2-3 minutes every hour. If you can’t physically get away from your desk, try to regularly focus on distant objects (at least 20 feet away), as this helps to relax your eyes and reduce the strain on your vision.
You can also make changes to your workstation in order to try and protect your eyes, as covered in the Complete Guide to Vision and Your Eyes from online retailer Shade Station. They discuss the positive impact of correct monitor placement on your vision, highlighting the ideal placement:
– Your computer monitor should be between 24-48 inches away from your eyes, with the very top of the screen situated at eye level.
– The centre of the screen should be around 20 degrees below the level of your eyes
– If you’re using reference material that’s not located on the computer, try and position it next to the screen (with tape if needs be) so that you’re limiting excessive head and eye movements.
By following these few simple tips and alterations, you can lessen the negative impact of prolonged computer use and keep your eyes fit and healthy for years to come. If you have any further tips, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!