Many of us spend hour after hour looking at a computer screen. This often results in eyestrain, irritated eyes and blurred vision; symptoms that can be markedly worse if contact lenses are involved.
Just two consecutive hours spent behind a screen can affect your vision, disrupt your sleep patterns affect your general eye health in the long term.
Follow these 10 tips to take better care of your eyes this year:
1. Cut the glare
Any light reflection on your screen will strain your eyes. Don’t use your computer or device where there’s direct light – especially sunlight – on the screen. Put an anti-glare filter on your screen, and if you wear specs, put the same anti-reflective coating on your glasses to reduce glare and improve vision.
2. Avoid harsh light
It’s not only glare from your screen that can cause eye strain and irritation. Bright sunlight through a window or harsh indoor light should also be avoided. Close blinds or curtains to keep out bright sun, and don’t sit directly in front of windows. If harsh overhead lighting is straining your eyes, use fewer or low-intensity light bulbs.
3. Screen ergonomics
Ensure that your computer screen is between 50 and 60cm from your eyes. Make sure you’re also not constantly looking down from your screen at a print-out or document; rather put any printed pages you’re working from on a stand beside your monitor.
4. A bright idea
Your screen is not meant to be a light source; if it’s lighting your dark room, it’s too bright. Rather, the screen should be the same brightness as the environment around you – not too bright, but also not too dim.
5. Banish the blue
Blue light emitted from screens causes eye strain, makes it harder to fall asleep and is even thought to contribute to macular degeneration and vision loss. Reduce it with blue light filter apps like F.lux, which will automatically adjust your screen’s colour temperature, making it easier on the eye.
6. Bigger is better
Set the text on your device or computer to a large enough size that you don’t need to strain your eyes peering at the screen. Three times larger than the smallest you can comfortably read is a good guide.
7. Go for contrast
High contrast is good, so opt for black text on a white background or similar dark-on-light colour combinations.
8. Take frequent breaks
No matter how engrossed you are in your work, give your eyes a break every 20 minutes. Looking off into the distance for a minute or two will prevent focus fatigue by relaxing the muscles that keep your eyes focused on the screen. Even better, get up from your chair and stretch your body at the same time.
9. Blinking good advice
Studies show we blink five times less than usual when staring at a screen, which leads to dry eyes and blurry vision. Be sure to blink regularly, blink slowly several times to properly moisten your eyes every now and then.
10. Designed for comfort
A new report on digital eye strain by The Vision Council in the USA says that people who wear contacts are more likely to have “computer vision syndrome”, experiencing symptoms of “eye discomfort and visual disturbances”. They’re also four times more likely to experience dry eyes during or after screen time.