Try these 6 tips to avoid computer eye strain and headaches

Try these 6 tips to avoid computer eye strain and headaches

Screens surround us in our personal, professional and social lives. While modern civilization makes it seemingly impossible to cut back our time in front of them completely – or even significantly – there are steps you can take to curb some of the side effects from staring at a screen.

Dr. Sunil Raichand, an optometrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says current medical understanding presents more problems in the short-term.

“There isn’t any conclusive evidence that staring at computer screens causes any significant harm,” he says. “We don’t ever really blame anything long-lasting on looking at screens.”

Many who spend a lot of time behind a computer screen can still suffer, he says, including children. Notably, he hears frequent complaints of eye strain – occurring when you use your eyes for an extended amount of time without rest.

Symptoms include eye fatigue, dryness and burning, blurred vision, aversion to bright lights, insomnia and headaches.

Dr. Raichand encourages those who suffer from these symptoms or want to avoid them to take a proactive, preventative approach and offers several possible solutions.

“Everyone’s eyes are different,” he says. “Everyone blinks differently, has differently shaped eyes or has dryer eyes than others. Not all of these solutions will work for everyone, but they could help.”

  • Take breaks – One of the most obvious and effective solutions to keep your eyes feeling fresh is to give them a little time away from screens. The popular “20/20/20” exercise – taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away from you – is an effective way to ease the strain of work.
  • Be sure to blink! – Many of the problems of eye strain are caused by or exacerbated by the human brain’s tendency to blink less and more quickly than usual when focusing on something. That leads to further strain and dryness. Try to be mindful.
  • Keep your face farther from the screen – Your screen should be upwards of two to three feet away from your eyes as well as at eye level to reduce the amount of work they have to do to read what’s on it.
  • Consider enlarging your type – Though you may be hesitant to do too much enlarging to avoid comparisons to the elderly, it really can help people of all ages who spend a lot of time reading.
  • Try anti-glare programs or setting different brightness – Several devices have native settings or apps you can download to reduce the amount of blue light they put off as the sun goes down. This can not only help give your eyes a break, but can help your brain begin relaxing for bed.
  • Consider special glasses for older individuals – On rare occasions, Dr. Raichand says he prescribes special computer glasses for those whose need some assistance. Ask your optometrist if they are right for you.

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About the Author

Nathan Lurz
Nathan Lurz

Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.