In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to spend eight-plus hour workdays in front of a computer screen, and then top it off by consuming media on our smartphones, reading e-Books, and aimlessly surfing the web. Logically, it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure our eyes don’t suffer as a result of our digitized lives.
According to the 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report by the Vision Council, people blink an average of 18 times per minute, but staring at a screen causes blink rates to decrease, often resulting in dry, burning, or itchy eyes.
Further, the VC reports that adults with computer-oriented jobs feel the strain most acutely, and a 2014 study found that office workers who spend significant time in front of computer screens undergo physiological changes in tear fluid similar to those with dry eye disease.
However, research has also investigated how to best protect the eyes from the effects of prolonged screen time.
1. Remind yourself to blink more often
Since blink rates go down because of screen time, the VC recommends making it a point to make sure you’re blinking enough. This could help combat those dry eyes.
2. Do the “high-five test”
Sitting an arm’s length away from your computer screen can help ease the strain on your eyes. The VC says to do the “high-five test” — if you can’t properly extend your arm to high-five the screen, you’re sitting too close.
3. Proper lighting around a computer workstation
According to a computer vision syndrome review published by researchers at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Texas at Houston, “proper lighting within the computer workstation area will enable the user to improve visual comfort and performance while eliminating annoyance and visual fatigue.”
In an ideal environment, there would be equalized brightness throughout a user’s visual field, so the researchers advise filtering excessive window lighting with blinds and diminishing intense fluorescent lights by removing a few of the lighting tubes.
4. Adjust the screen brightness
Adjusting screen brightness can help give the eyes a break. The VC says to consider switching the background color from a bright white to a cool grey.
5. Take a 20-20-20 break
Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This helps the eye muscles refocus. Staring at a computer for hours can make it more difficult for the muscles to adjust once our eyes are finally unglued from the screen.
6. Adjust text size
Enlarging text size can save your eyes from straining to make out what is written on the screen. The VC recommends using the settings control to make proper adjustments based on what feels best for your eyes.
7. Reduce the glare
Remembering to consistently dust and wipe off digital screens can help lower the glare, and you might also consider attaching a glare reduction filter to your computer screen.
8. Consider getting glasses prescribed specifically for computer use
This is a question to take to your doctor, but glasses with special lens designs, lens powers, or lens tints and coatings may help protect the eyes against the strain of a screen-heavy lifestyle.
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