What are the symptoms of computer eye strain?
- Eye discomfort
- Sore, tired, burning or itchy eyes
- Difficulty focusing
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
Although eye strain can cause discomfort, it usually isn’t serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. You may not be able to change the amount of time you’re in front of a computer at work, or the factors that can cause eye strain, but you can take steps to reduce it.
If you’re an adult aged around 40-55, it might be that you’re feeling the effects of eye strain as a result of presbyopia. Presbyopia is a common symptom of your eyes ageing, and it could mean that you begin to experience eyestrain more frequently, particularly when using digital screens at a normal reading distance or looking at your phone up-close.
If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, it’s worth booking an appointment with an optician to have a closer look at your eye health.
Have an eye test
Regular eye examinations are essential for clear, comfortable vision. But they also offer a broader health assessment – the optometrist checks the health of your eyes and looks for signs of other medical conditions.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 stipulate that employees using Visual Display Units (VDUs or computer monitors) should be provided with an eye examination, funded by their employer, when requested.
When you have your test, let the optometrist know you use computers often.
Download our Guide to DSE Regulations pdf (558KB)
If used regularly and carefully, eye exercises can help reduce the symptoms of eye strain. Be wary of suggestions around the use of eye yoga as there's no current scientific evidence that it can help your vision. Read more about eye yoga here.
Rest your eyes
Regularly look away from your computer screen and focus on distant objects. For example, take a minute to stare out of the window.
Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye, which in turn reduces eye fatigue.
Use adequate lighting
Eye strain is often caused by excessive sunlight coming in through the window or by bright room lighting.
Use curtains or blinds to reduce the brightness of the sun, reduce the lighting in your room and avoid sitting under big overhead fluorescent lights.
If possible, use floor lamps instead.
Glare reflected from light-coloured painted walls and shiny surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen, can cause eye strain.
- An anti-glare screen attached to your monitor can help (and is a less drastic measure than painting the walls in a darker, matt-finish paint).
- Reduce the external light by covering windows or using a computer hood over the monitor.
- If you’re a glasses wearer, use lenses with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. At Specsavers, lenses are available with UltraClear SuperClean - an anti-reflection and a scratch resistant coating in one.
Upgrade your display
Changing from an old-style cathode ray tube (or CRT) monitor to a modern LCD screen can help avoid eye strain.
- CRTs can flicker, which contributes significantly to eye strain, while LCD screens are easier on the eye and usually have an anti-reflective surface.
- When choosing a new LCD screen, pick one with the highest resolution possible.
Adjust your monitor’s settings
Adjusting your computer’s display settings can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.
- Make sure the brightness is the same as the surroundings and adjust the text size and contrast so that it is comfortable to read. Black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
- Adjust the monitor’s colour temperature to reduce the amount of blue colours on your screen. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer-wavelength hues, such as orange and red.
Modify your workstation
The way you sit at your desk and arrange your equipment can affect your vision.
- Having to keep looking down at a piece of paper and then up at your monitor can contribute to eye strain. Place documents on a copy stand next to the screen.
- Make sure your workstation and chair are at the correct height. Improper posture while working on your computer can also add strain.
- Your computer screen should be 20 to 24 inches from your eyes and the centre of the screen should be 10 to 15 degrees below your eye line.
Wear lenses specifically for computers
Wearing prescription glasses gives the greatest comfort at your computer.
If you wear contact lenses, consider wearing glasses when on your computer as contact lenses can become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work.
Our new SuperDigital varifocal lenses have been created purposely for people that use digital screens for prolonged periods.