1. Measure Your Setup
You shouldn't have your face only a foot from your screen. The best distance from your computer is between 20 and 24 inches. If you have a larger screen, you can back up a little bit more. The key here is that you don't want to be so close that the brightness hurts your eyes, and you don't want to be so far that you're straining to see words and figures as you type or read.
The center of your screen should be below eye level by about 10-15 degrees. This can be harder to measure. For most screens, it just means that the top of the screen is about level with your eyes.
2. Control Glare
Glare is a cause of eye strain at the office that often goes unnoticed. It's caused by other lights reflecting off your screen. That light may come from an overhead light, a desk lamp, or a window. Reposition your screen, turn off a light if you can, or lower the drapes or shades so that you can focus better on the screen itself.
3. Change Display Settings
Chances are you haven't adjusted any of the settings on your display in ages. This means you're overlooking one of the easiest and most adjustable ways to ease office eye strain. Brightness is the obvious monitor setting – it's a good idea to make the screen about as bright as the area around you is.
You can also ramp text size up easily within most programs. Some monitors allow you to adjust color temperature, contrast, and many other elements. Color temperature can simply mean using less blue light, which strains the eye more than red light does.
4. Remember to Blink!
When we're focused on a task, we can often forget to blink. This dries our eyes out, denies them nutrients, and means they don't get even a momentary break from light. The office is indoors, which means there's no breeze that encourages us to blink.
You may need to make blinking a habit. If your eyes are becoming dry, try to remember to blink more. If they're still dry, ask an optometrist about eye drops that can help or the exercises you can do daily to express the glands to keep from having dry eye.
5. Make Adjustments
Small adjustments can lessen eye strain. This can mean simply slanting the angle of your monitor by a few degrees now and again, moving the monitor a few inches forward or back (or sitting further back in your chair), or sliding a window from one side of the screen to the other. Doing things like this allow you to look at your screen in slightly different ways. This eases eye strain quite a bit because it means the eye isn't always focused on something the exact same way.
6. Take Visual Breaks
Staring at the screen for an hour? That's not healthy, but if you have work to do you can't exactly walk away for long periods of time. One good way to help is to take a break every 20 minutes. It doesn't have to be a long break that interrupts your work. Just take 20 or 30 seconds to look at something far away – think 20 feet or more. This makes your eyes focus in a different way than they are when looking at your screen, about two feet away.
Looking at your phone's screen does not count. The key here is to look at something that's not a screen and that makes your eyes focus momentarily on something distant.
7. Get an Eye Exam
If you're suffering repeated eye strain from your work, it's not going to go away on its own. It may mean your prescription needs updating, or that you have an eye health issue that needs to be addressed. Make an appointment for an eye exam. The solution is often very easy and can help you focus on your work more effectively while reducing your stress.
Eye strain can point to eye health issues, and it's best to address these to prevent the risk of longer-term health or vision damage. Online eye exams can lack accuracy and have no way of assessing the health of the eyes themselves, so make sure your exam is a comprehensive, in-person one.
Protecting your eyes at the office is key to maintaining vision health, spotting potential conditions, and, of course, becoming that much more productive! For more information about protecting your eyes, or to schedule an eye exam, contact Asheville Vision Associates.