My eyes feel tired after using a computer. What can I do?
If you regularly use a computer for work or spend a significant portion of your day or evening browsing on a laptop or tablet, you may have experienced the sensation of tired eyes after too much time in front of a screen. This is generally referred to as eye fatigue or eye strain - and while it can be quite a serious condition, there are some simple common-sense precautions you can take to protect your eyes from too much screen time.
Why does eye strain happen?
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time in front of a computer screen can suffer from eye strain. This is also sometimes referred to by the umbrella term computer vision syndrome, which is used to describe a range of eye-related conditions. You may have heard of repetitive stress injuries associated with carrying out the same task - like typing on a computer keyboard - over and over again. Eye strain is caused in a similar way. Your eyes have to constantly move, focus and re-focus while you work at a computer screen - and without regular breaks, this can put strain on these important muscles.Additionally, elements including glare and contrast, as well as flickering, make reading and writing on a computer screen more challenging than when you read and write on paper.
Can looking at a computer screen damage my eyes?
You may wonder if the eye strain you experience while looking at a computer screen can cause damage to your eyes. While the risk of long-term eye damage such as cataracts is relatively minimal, this does not mean you will not experience discomfort or short-term effects of eye strain. In addition to feeling tired after looking at a computer screen for too long, you may experience dryness or redness in your eyes, headaches, or even blurred or double vision.Taking action to prevent these symptoms - and treating them when they occur - can help you work more productively, and in greater comfort.
How can I treat eye strain caused by computers?
If you are experiencing eye strain caused by computers, the first thing you should do is ensure you take a break from the screen until your symptoms subside. Another important step is to book an appointment with your optometrist. If you need a prescription for corrective lenses - or you already wear glasses or contact lenses, but you need a new prescription - you may find that you experience more severe symptoms of eye strain. A quick vision test will ensure you are able to see clearly - and in many cases, the right diagnosis and corrective lenses can help to alleviate the problem. Take preventative measures to combat eye fatigue. Glasses and contact lenses can help you read information on a computer screen more clearly, but they cannot be used to compensate for time spent away from your desktop monitor or laptop. At work, you should ensure you take regular breaks from your screen - get up to make a coffee or cup of tea, go for a quick walk or even have a look out the window. You can also make changes to your work environment to make it healthier and more comfortable. For example, anti-glare screen guards can help to minimise the amount of light that is reflected off your computer and can also reduce the amount of flickering you see. Regularly cleaning your computer screen will keep it free from smudges and fingerprints, which can also place strain on your eyes. Additionally, you should ensure that your computer screen is positioned comfortably - just a little bit below eye level is best. A flexible screen and an adjustable desk chair will help you get the right balance.