With rising numbers of people using computers a definite increase in the numbers of people with tired eyes and eyestrain has occurred. There is no scientific link between using computers and permanent eye damage, however you do not need a scientist to prove the fact that using a monitor for any great length of time results in tired, red, and sometimes dry eyes.
There is also something called Computer vision syndrome, which is a common eye condition amongst computer screen users. Symptoms can range from tired eyes to blurred vision. If you do experience any of the following symptoms you could have computer vision syndrome. If you find it difficult to focus on distant objects after using a computer, you have headaches, eyestrain or dry eyes you need to take extra care when using a monitor to avoid getting computer vision syndrome. It is also best to visit your optician for an eye test to rule out anything more serious.
Here are some tips to help with tired eyes:
- Take breaks. Focusing on the screen for long periods can lead to computer vision syndrome so it is important to take regular breaks. You should rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking away from the screen. You can also use the 10-10-10 rule, every ten minutes focus on something at least 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds.
- Adjust your monitor settings and position. You should adjust your computer so that the monitor settings are comfortable for you. The brightness and contrast can be adjusted so that you are not straining your eyes. Try using a larger font size or using the zoom option on the page layout to make it easier on your eyes. The screen should also be kept clean using special wipes. Your health and safety manager at work will be able to help you ensure the screen is positioned correctly. The screen should be at least at arms lenght away from you, and also new research has discovered that the verticle centre of the monitor should be at eye level.
- Check the lighting around the computer. There should not be any bright sunlight reflecting onto your screen. Using an anti-glare screen which is fixed onto your monitor is a good idea to reduce any glare and will block any reflections.
- Blink frequently. Remember to blink at regular intervals. When you are concentrating for a long time at a computer your blink rate slows down. Some people also find that they get dry eyes when using computers. This is one of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome but it can be relieved by using eye drops. Ask your optician for advice if you get dry eyes. Those who wear contact lenses may be more prone to dry eye.
- Have regular eye tests. Experts recommend that adults should have an eye test at least every two years. An eye test will check your eyesight and will also look for signs of eye disease. Other health problems may also be detected during an eye test.
If you use computers for work you may be entitled to a free eye test, paid for by your employer. Under European legislation employees who use VDUs are entitled to an eye test when they begin using VDUs and at regular intervals throughout their employment. If you experience eye problems which may be a result of using VDUs then you will be entitled to a free eye test. If you then need to wear glasses your employer must pay for a basic pair of glasses or you can pay the difference for a pair of your choice.
Watching TV, reading, using the computer, as well as the plethora of other close up activities put a lot of stress upon the eyes. All of this stress has an effect on the eye and can cause a deterioration of eyesight. If you are not taking breaks (as in the 10-10-10 rule) in between all of these activities, then your vision could begin to weaken over time.
We tend to take the eyes for granted, but they are like any other part of the body and require exercise and maintenance. But what things can we do?
Blink more. Your eyes need to be lubricated often and blinking provides that lubrication by moistening your eyes to keep them from drying out. Blinking also helps to stretch the eye muscles, massage the eyeball, and dilates and contracts your pupils more efficiently. Practice this step often. Once you form the habit, your eyes will respond favorably and you will experience less eyestrain and irritation. Intentional blinking every few seconds, especially if you have been reading a while, watching television, or working at the computer.
Even your eyes need some form of exercise. There are six muscles connected to your eyeball which need strengthening. The required degree of strengthening is not nearly as intense as would be for other parts of your body. The exercises below are really easy to do and will not take a lot of time out of your day.
- Get in a comfortable chair with your hands in your lap or resting on the arms of the chair. Breathe deeply to relax and release the tension in your body, neck, and shoulders. Once relaxed, make sure your eyes are facing forward. Look up with your eyes only as high as you can without straining, breathe in, and hold for a few seconds. Then look down with your eyes only as low as you can, breathe in and hold for a few seconds, breathe out. Repeat this two more times
- Look to your right with your eyes only as far as you can comfortably, breathe in, hold for a few seconds, breathe out. Look up to the right, breathe in, hold it, breathe out. Then look to the left, eyes only as far as you can without straining, breathe in, hold, and breathe out. Look up to the left, breathe in, hold, breathe out. Bring your eyes down to the right, breathe in, hold, breathe out. Repeat twice more. Was that easy, or what?
- This exercise is known as palming. Again you will be sitting in a chair. First you need to warm up the palms of your hand. Rub them together vigorously. Lace your fingers and put them on your forehead with your palms covering your eyes. Make sure no light comes through your fingers. Keep your eyes closed and rested for a few minutes. Take about 20 to 50 breathes before removing your hands. When you open your eyes your should be able to see more clearly and have better focus. Try this when you have been watching television for a while, reading, or using the computer. It is a great way to rest your eyes and keep them lubricated at the same time
- This next exercise might be a little challenging for those of us who are not accustomed to using both sides of our brain. The right side of our brain controls the left side, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. You will again be sitting in a comfortable chair with your back supported. Fixate on an object that is about 5 to 20 feet away from you. Slowly bring your thumb up into the line of vision about 8 inches from your face. You should see two thumbs if you are using both eyes. If you see two thumbs but one is not as clear as the other than you will need to practice more deep breathing, blinking, and palming, my friend
- This exercise is called swinging. Stand up and focus on a distant point, swaying gently from side to side. Repeat 50 times, blinking as you sway. Blinking cleans and lubricates the eyes, which is especially important if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer
- Get plenty of rest at night. Give your eyes a break from the daily routine and get sufficient sleep. Staying up all hours of the night puts a tremendous strain on your eyes, not to mention your body. Believe me, I know. I can remember when I was in high school and even into my 20’s staying up late or being out late until 2 or 3 a.m., and then having to get up in the morning around 6 or 7 a.m. to go to school or later to work. Throughout the day my eyes felt like someone was playing a nonstop game of darts or toothpicks were being stuck in my eyeballs. I had a good time, but my eyes definitely did not