For many of the nation's office workers, keeping eyes healthy and going strong is a legitimate concern. Hours spent in front of a computer monitor is not the ideal situation for a person's eyes, yet many people are at a loss as to how to protect their eyes while still getting their work done.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), two hours of computer use per day is all it takes to develop what is now referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS can include symptoms such as itchy or fatigued eyes and eyes that grow sensitive to light after prolonged computer use. Though computers aren't going anywhere, there are ways workers can minimize their risk of CVS while still getting their work done.
Beware of light reflections. Glare and shadows can negatively impact vision when sitting at the computer. When working at a desk, be sure to avoid facing an unshaded window or having an unshaded window directly behind you. If the layout of your office insists on either arrangement, use curtains, shades or blinds. To reduce reflections, position your desk and computer so the window is off to the side of your computer.
Consult your eye doctor. A big contributor to vision problems resulting from working at a computer is often the atypical distance the computer screen is from the eyes. The text on a computer screen is often farther away than the text might be when we're reading a book, but closer than the text on street signs when we're driving.
This intermediate distance can lead to problems with focus. For those who wear glasses, either full-time or just to drive or read, this can be a big problem. You might want to consult your eye doctor to see if a separate prescription tailored to computer use might be appropriate.
It might be the computer. Chances are the position of your computer monitor is playing a role in how well or how bad your eyes are feeling. Ideally, the monitor should be in a position where you are looking just over the top of the monitor when staring straight ahead. Keep the monitor at a slight upward angle as well, so your eyes are looking slightly downward when reading. Eyes focus more accurately when looking slightly downward, so this small adjustment can actually make a big impact on your eyes.
Keep eye drops nearby. Blinking helps our eyes remain moist. When using a computer we don't blink nearly as much as we normally do, often resulting in dry and irritated eyes. While it can be hard to make a conscious effort to blink more, give it a shot and also keep eye drops nearby to ensure your eyes avoid drying out over the course of a typical work day.
Give your eyes a break. Much like your legs might need to take breaks from sitting at a desk and be stretched out during the day, your eyes need to take breaks as well. Something as simple as focusing on an object that's farther away from your computer screen for 30 to 60 seconds can be enough of a break for your eyes. Keeping eyes focused on the same spot for too long can cause muscle strain and fatigue, so be sure to give your eyes a break several times over the course of a day.