The amount of time you spend staring at a computer screen can affect your eyes and worsen dry eye symptoms. But all sorts of screens, including phones, computers, video games, video devices etc are a part of modern life. It is hard to get away from screens if you have an office job and if there are new Netflix series to binge or Instagram to catch up on.
Activities that demand intense concentration can result in eyestrain and dryness, research shows that a person blinks up to 66 per cent less frequently while using a computer. Blinking helps spread hydrating substances like tears and mucus across your eyes, so if you’re blinking less, the tears on your eyes have more time to evaporate, resulting in red and dry eyes.
The brightness of the monitor reflecting onto your eyes also contribute to dry and tired eyes. By the end of the workday people find they are squinting to see clearly.
Signs that you may have computer vision syndrome, which is also known as digital eyestrain, include:
• blurry vision
• dry eyes
• neck and shoulder pain
Here are 12 steps you can take to reduce eye dryness and strain.
1. See your optometrist
If you wear glasses, talk to your optometrist about anti-reflective coatings or special lenses. These can help to minimise glare on your computer screen and keep your eyes feeling comfortable.
2. Eye drops
Eye drops can ensure your eyes stay lubricated while using a computer. The TearsAgain liposomal eye spray will help hydrate your eyes.
3. Adjust your screen
Proper placement of the monitor on your desk can help reduce glare and promote a more ergonomic work-space. Look at getting a larger monitor, which will make words and images easier to see. Also, enlarge the font whenever possible to make reading easier.
Position your computer monitor about 40 centimetres away from your head. The monitor should be placed at such a height that you’re looking at the middle of the screen. If you are hunching or stretching to see your monitor, you can rest assured it’s not in the correct position for optimal ergonomic experience.
4. Computer settings
Use a glare filter over your computer to reduce any unwanted light that can make it difficult to see. Also note that flatter screens tend to have less glare.
Adjust your computer’s refresh rate to between 70 and 85 Hz. Most computer screens will refresh at a rate of 60 Hz. However, this speed can cause a flickering or rolling of the screen.
Adjust the brightness of your computer monitor as well. If a website with a white background is so bright that it looks like a light source, it’s too bright.
It’s best if your computer monitor is away from the window (meaning, not in front of a window or behind one). This position will reduce the glare from outside light that can further irritate and dry your eyes. If your desk can’t be moved away from a window, we suggest you blinds to help reduce glare.
Switching out overhead fluorescent lights in favour of lamps can help to reduce overhead glare that can make it difficult for your eyes to focus. Adjusting light to a lower wattage or even a softer filter can help to relax the eyes.
If you do use a lamp on your desk, ensure it isn’t pointed directly at your face. Instead, the light should be pointed downward, toward papers on your desk.
6. Eye exercises
While you can make some changes to your computer workstation and monitor, there are other things you can do to ensure you’re protecting your eyes as best you can while working.
Look away from your computer screen at least every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Focusing on an item that is about a couple of metres away from you can help to reduce strain and fatigue on the eye muscles.
7. Adjust air quality
The air quality in the environment that you use a computer in can play a role in eyestrain and dryness. Use a humidifier to increase the amount of moisture in the air. If necessary, move away from fans and vents that blow air toward your eyes and face.
Also, avoid smoking or being exposed to second hand smoke that can irritate your eyes.
Some supplements may help improve your dry eye and eyestrain symptoms. For example, omega-3 fatty acids and bilberry extract may help with dry eye, but research is limited and we advise you to talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist before taking any supplements.
9. Take a break
If you work at a computer all day, it’s important to take frequent breaks.
Every hour or two, take a few minutes to get up, go for a short walk, and stretch your arms and legs. Getting away from your computer will help reduce eyestrain and dryness.
10. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can make chronic dry eye symptoms worse. And if you’re staring at a computer screen for an extended period of time on top of that, not drinking enough water can make your eyes feel even worse.
11. See an eye doctor