Mother Earth Living

Combating Computer Eye Strain

Helpful tips when combating computer eye strain, includes suggestions on how to rest your eyes, computer glasses, monitor print size and laptops vs desktop computers.
By Sharon Niederman
November/December 2001
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Learn what to do when combating computer eye strain while working.
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Learn tips to help you when combating computer eye strain.

Combating Computer Eye Strain

Those of us who spend hours a day in front of a computer know that staring at the screen for extended periods of time can lead to eyestrain. While we may not be able to change our work venue or lessen the hours we spend at the computer, we can learn to take better care of our eyes.

Reprogram your “Blink Rate”

The image on the computer screen is not a stable one. Rather than a solid black-and-white image, the computer picture is composed of pixels that appear as miniscule dots, flickering at high rates of speed. Our brains try to make sense of this by constantly telling our eyes to refocus.

Because the brain is on alert trying to pick up these signals, we blink less. Normal blink rate is around twenty times a minute, but at the computer, we blink only about half as much as we should. To reprogram your blink rate, consciously blink several times the next time you restart your computer. Try doing this exercise each and every time you boot up your computer. Or better yet, type a reminder into your screen saver.

Consider Computer Glasses

Another source of stress for our eyes is the physical distance we sit from our computer screens. While normal reading distance is 14 to 16 inches, our monitors typically sit 26 to 28 inches away. While it may not be possible to move your screen closer, computer glasses may alleviate the problem. Designed for the specific work distance between your eyes and your screen, computer glasses should be used for the specific purpose of computer work and then left at your workstation.

And if you typically wear bifocals, your eyes may be under additional stress, since you tend to raise your head and lean in toward the screen. Invisible bifocals (the ones that don’t show any line between top and bottom half of the lens) may be a better choice.

Take a Break to Rest your Eyes

Difficult as it may be—considering there’s e-mail to be checked and reports to be written—taking a breather from the computer will ultimately ease eyestrain. Make it a point, every fifteen minutes, to look up and away from your screen. Gaze as far as you can into the distance. If you’ve got a window, look at the horizon. If all you’ve got is a wall in front of you, look at that for a minute or two.

Here are few more helpful hints for those experiencing computer eyestrain.

• Larger print is always better than smaller print.
• Black text on a yellow or rosy background tends to be more soothing.
• Consider purchasing a laptop; it’s easier on the eyes because it comes closer to the standard reading position.

Read more about soybean foods and your health: Natural Healing Using Soybean Foods.

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