Eye strain resulting from prolonged staring at computer screens is a common inconvenience. I’m sure most of you have experienced this, especially during long nights of writing reports or watching Youtube videos. Some symptoms of eye strain include:
- Sore and tired eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Heightened sensitivity to light
- Troubles focusing
Eye strain in general occurs when your eyes tire from prolonged or intense usage. This post in particular will come at the angel of eye strain resulting from staring at your computer monitor(s) for long periods of time. If this is an issue for you, keep reading for 7 tips you can use to reduce computer eye strain!
Tip #1: Minimize Glare
Glare is an effect where a concentration of light is focused towards your eyes indirectly from a strong light source. For example, when driving in an area of a city that has tall buildings with long glass windows everywhere, the sun’s rays will often reflect off the glass towards your eyes. In the context of a Battlestation, this glare might appear from a reflection off your desk or even your monitors.
To minimize glare, you need to first identify the originating source of light which might be causing problems. The two most common sources of strong light in one’s workstation is usually the over-head room light, or a desk lamp.
For a desk lamp, it is usually simple enough to face the lamp in such a way that you are still deriving benefits from the light, but won’t be indirectly shining light in your eyes. Consider where the light is being reflected off of, and adjust your lamp so that the light reflects away from your eyes, easy-peasy.
Over-head lights are a little bit trickier, since they usually can’t be moved or have their light directed elsewhere. If light is reflecting off your monitor, a simple solution would be to angle your monitors such that the glare doesn’t hit your eyes. While this might result in a not-so perfect positioning for your monitor, keeping your eyes healthy is certainly worth the trade off!
Tip #2: Position yourself away from your Monitor
Sitting too close to your computer screen will cause your eyes to take the full force of the screen’s light, which can be straining on your eyes after a long duration. Likewise, sitting too far from your monitor might force you to strain and squint your eyes to read text or scan for other items on the screen.
The generally accepted rule of thumb is to keep your monitor 20-30 inches away from your eyes. Of course, you should take this with a grain of salt. This is an acceptable range for a typical 18″-27″ monitor, however if you’re monitor is bigger or smaller, adjustments might need to be made.
Another consideration is your monitor’s height relative to your eyes. You will generally want to keep your computer screen below eye level. In theory, this helps since eyes tend to produce more tears while looking down than looking up, which helps to sooth your eyes.
Tip #3: Ditch the CRT and Upgrade
Many of us are way past the years of CRT (Cathode-Ray tube) displays, but for those of you still using one it might be worth while to upgrade to an LCD monitor. CRT displays have a flickering effect to them, being a major contributor to eye strain.
Refresh rate (Hz) should also be considered. While there aren’t studies that suggest a higher fresh rate will help reduce eye strain, the smoother display can’t hurt. If you engage in activities such as gaming or watching lot’s of videos, consider looking into getting a 144 Hz monitor.
Tip #4: The 20-20-20 Rule
The 20-20-20 rule is a computer eye strain reduction technique written about by Amit Agarwal. In essence, the rule suggests that in intervals of 20 minutes, the user should take a 20 second break by looking at something about 20 feet away. Amit also provides recommends software he uses to help remind him to take this frequent breaks, which you can find here.
Tip #5: Take breaks
This tip is pretty self explanatory. Anybody who has experienced gaming or report-writing sessions late into the night know that it feels good to take their eyes off the screen for a while. This ties in to the tip about the 20-20-20 rule above. Breaking from your monitor for one minute every hour is better than nothing, but longer breaks are helpful as well. I like to take a 5-10 minute break at least every hour to give my eyes a rest. This might be for a bathroom break, or walking to the kitchen to grab a snack.
Tip #6: Use your Computer’s Blue Light Filter
A large contributor to eye strain is blue light. According to this article, blue light is a high energy wavelength which is considered to be dangerous to the retina. This light is commonly associated with sunlight, but is also prevalent in almost every display, including monitors. Blue light will contribute to eye strain and soreness, so it is recommended to keep exposure to a minimum.
There are a couple of ways to fend off this light, with the second one being in the next tip.
As the tip suggests, my first recommendation is to use either software or a built-in blue light filter option. In windows 10, if you type ‘Night Light’ into the search bar it will bring you to this interface:
As you can see, this interface let’s you pick the exact amount of blue light filter for your needs. Notice that this feature makes your screen appear orange, due to the lack of blue light.
The name ‘night light’ might raise some eyebrows. Blue light let’s your body’s internal block know that it’s daytime. So people (including myself) opt to automatically turn it on around an hour before they go to bed. If your phone also has this feature, I recommend you use it while you are in bed.
Tip #7: Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses
As an addition to the previous tip, blue light blocking glasses can be used as an alternative. You might not be able to get these built-in capabilities on your computer or device, so here’s your other option.
If you’re looking for a simple, effective and stylish pair, you take take a look at this pair I found on amazon. While I haven’t used these specific one’s myself, I have tried on a friend’s and they all appear to be basically the same. I don’t really feel like there’s a point in splurging on these, so a relatively inexpensive pair like the one’s I linked should do just fine.
There’s no real risk of wearing these all the time, aside from the fact that you might get tired easier. If your eyes strain easily, not only when you’re at your computer, these may be a worthwhile investment.
Eye strain from using your computer all day and night is a big annoyance. Especially when you want to get be productive and get stuff done. If you use even one of the seven actionable tips listed above, you should see some pretty good results (pun intended). To get the best results, I recommend picking two or three of these tips and incorporating them into your lifestyle. I hope this post has provided you with the guidance you need to keep your eyes happy and healthy so that they can keep working well into the future!
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to write a post below or email me at YourBattlestationBlog@gmail.com