9 Ways To Fight Eye Strain

Do you spend your days always looking at a brightly lit screen? Yeah, us too. But we don't have to take the pain sitting down.

More than 70% of Americans don't know—or don't believe—that they could suffer from eye strain, the Vision Council reports, though the most adults are on digital media from four to six hours a day—with 14% of young adults spending more than 12 hours a day looking at screens.

And yet anybody who spends all day in front of a screen is susceptible to eye strain—the all-too-familiar face fatigue we don't know quite how to fight.

How to know if you have eye strain

The symptoms, as per the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty focusing

The Mayo Clinic says that if you can't tolerate these symptoms at home—like by making the adjustments below—then you should head to the doctor, especially in the case of prolonged eye discomfort, changes in your vision, or double vision.

What you can do about it

The Vision Council report claims that the solution to eye strain is easy to enact: All you have to do is limit the time you spend in front of screens. But if your job tethers you to a desk—even a standing desk—you still are going to be dealing with screens all day. The key, then, is a mindfulness about the way you interact with the screens in your life: Just like mindlessly having your email open all day can slowly fill your body with tension, never looking away fills your eyes with tension.

1) Pay attention to your body:

Sudden eye, neck, or shoulder pain is a warning that eye strain may be coming on.

2) Reduce glare:

Turn down your monitor brightness. Less work for your eyes.

3) Clean the screen:

Wipe away dust: It reduces glare. Which means less work for eyes.

4) Dim your other lighting:

The more competing light in the room, the harder your eyes have to work.

5) Attend to your ergonomics:

Having the right distance between your eyes and your screen makes things less awful. To do so, check Lifehacker's ergo guide.

6) Adjust your screen:

Optimal case is directly in front of your face, just below eye level.

7) Grow your fonts:

Bigger the text size, lesser the eyeball labor.

8) Remember to blink:

Sometimes people's eyes dry out because they forget to blink. Really.

9) Use the 20-20-20 rule:

Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.

The Office Worker's Schedule for Healthy Living Behind a Desk

[Image: Flickr user John Morgan]

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5 Comments

  • Allan Hytowitz

    An additional possible cause of "computer vision syndrome" is that 80% of optometrists and ophthalmologists use "fuzzy" Snellen images for refractions.  "Fuzzy" projected images lack the crisp precision of pixelized computer letters.  To have the same sensation of visual clarity and crispness as you get with pixelized computer images, habitual computer users have a tendency to want the projected test images to appear just as intense.  That desired corresponding intensity of the "fuzzy" projected images inadvertently results in excess of myopic refractive power in the prescription.  That excess myopic power in the real world, and when looking at actual computer images, becomes a major source of strain and visual stress.

  • Marlene Richter

    For some people, including myself, it is not the screen, it's the wireless connection.

  • Joseph Palmer

    Hey designers, pay attention to #7 - we can't stand your 6pt type ;) 

  • Ana

    Maybe our author should heed his own advice to catch some of the typos and missing words in this article...