By Rachel Rosenthal, MS, RD
Do you spend a majority of your day staring at a computer or another electronic device (think cellphones and tablets)? Do your eyes ever feel tired, sore, dry, watery, or itchy? Then you may be suffering from asthenopia or more commonly known as eye strain. But not to worry, we have some easy fixes that will help you keep your eyes fresh and focused all day long!
- Take breaks (often). The easiest thing you can do for your eyes is take a break. Many eye doctors suggest following the 20-20-20 rule, which is every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. Taking a break from your computer and focusing on blinking will help keep your eyes lubricated. Tip: set reminder alerts on your computer or phone to take breaks throughout the day! During a few of your breaks you can also try massaging the area around your eyes to help relieve some tension and relax the muscles.
- Lighting is everything. The lighting in your office area can be a major contributing factor to your eye strain. While this may be out of your control, if possible, minimize exterior light from outside by closing drapes or blinds to reduce brightness. Or try to move your computer monitor so the windows are on the side of you instead of in front or behind your screen. Lastly, if you can turn off overhead lights and use floor lamps for light this can help with the overall brightness of the room.
- Customize your computer settings. If you cannot control the lighting in your office, you should be able to personalize your computer settings. For brightness, you want it to match your surroundings. Not too bright or too dark. A good rule of thumb is to look at a white screen on your computer and if it looks like a light source it’s too bright, but if it’s dull in comparison it may not be bright enough, so adjust accordingly. If you find yourself constantly squinting, you may want to increase the text size to a comfortable level. The last aspect to adjust is the amount of blue light your computer is emitting. Of all the colors, blue light is the most problematic due to its short wavelength. How do you reduce blue light? Glad you asked! By reducing the color temperature of your display, you can greatly reduce this problematic feature.
While trying the tips above have been shown to help the symptoms of eye strain, it is still important to get a comprehensive eye exam once year. Undergoing your annual eye exam is the best way to prevent and correct any vision problems that may be contributing to your eye strain. Be sure to explain to your eye doctor how often you spend looking at electronic devices, since this may change their approach!