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Computer eye strain has become a major office-related complaint. Symptoms can range from headaches, blurred vision, physical fatigue and decreased productivity, to minor annoyances like dry irritated eyes and eye twitching.

Here are 6 easy steps you can take to reduce computer eye strain:

1. Lighting and Glare.

  • Reduce bright light either from excessive sunlight or from harsh interior lighting.
  • Position your monitor so windows are to the side instead of in front or behind it.
  • Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes.
  • If you wear spectacles, consider lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating.

2. Computer Screen and Display.

  • LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface.
  • Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation.

3. Blinking.

Blinking keeps the front surface of our eyes moist, reducing dryness and irritation. By working at a computer, people can blink up to five times less than normal. Having an aircon in your office can increase tear evaporation, placing you at greater risk for dry eye problems.

  • Make an effort to blink frequently.
  • If you experience dry irritated eyes, consider using artificial tears during office hours.

4. Exercise your eyes.

To reduce the risk of your eyes’ focusing muscles “locking up” (a condition called accommodative spasm) after prolonged computer work, consider the following exercise:

  • Look an object far away (about 6 meters) at for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close (about 40cm) for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this for about a minute, at least 3 times a day.

5. Rest Breaks.

  • To reduce your risk of eye strain by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 6 meters) for at least 20 seconds. Looking in distance relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.
  • By taking only two 15-minute breaks from their computer throughout their work day will not only reduce discomfort and eye strain but also increase productivity.
  • During computer breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue.

6. Computer Ergonomics.

  • To reduce eye strain, make sure you sit at a proper distance from the computer screen (at least 60cm).
  • Adjust your workstation, and chair to the correct height. Your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck.

That said, having a routine comprehensive eye exam is still the most important thing you can do to prevent or reduce computer vision problems. For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your optometrist create customized computer spectacles. Wearing contact lenses may not be ideal for the office environment, as they may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work.