Here are some easy ways to prevent eye strain before it starts.
1. Follow the 20-20-20 rule
As mentioned, one cause of digital eye strain is intensely focusing on a screen that’s too close to your face. When your eyes are focused on something close, they move inward towards each other. They will stay that way until you look at something further away, at which point they move outward. Allowing your pupils to move back and forth reduces digital eye strain.
Give your eyes the chance to focus both near and far away. Set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, look into the distance at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Twenty minutes, 20 feet, 20 seconds: It’s the 20-20-20 rule.
2. Position your monitor farther away
You can also alleviate eye strain caused by focusing up close by adjusting your monitor to about an arm’s length away from your eyes. Keep the top of the screen at or just below eye level to reduce strain.
3. Use a glare filter
Glare, or light reflecting off your screen, can cause digital eye strain because it makes the words on the screen more difficult to read. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve brought your laptop outside to work on a sunny day. With too much direct sunlight, you stare blindly at a too-bright screen.
Reduce glare in the office environment by installing a matte screen filter on your monitor. Also, consider purchasing glasses that filter blue light and help reduce glare and eye strain. Both the screen filter and glasses reduce the amount of reflected light to help reduce stress on your eyes.
Position your computer so that it’s not directly in front of a window or below overhead lighting. While not as drastic as working outside in the sun, this more indirect form of light can affect the glare on your screen.
5. Dim your computer screen
You can also get glare from your computer screen when the display is too bright. Match the brightness of your computer screen to the brightness of the room. Change it throughout the day if you work in an office with a window or two.
Some computers come equipped with light-sensing technology and adjust the brightness of the screen automatically, but many don’t. You can purchase a display that automatically adjusts screen brightness based on the light conditions. If you need to adjust your screen’s brightness manually, hold up a piece of blank white paper next to your screen. The brightness of the paper should roughly match the brightness of your screen.
6. Use a document stand
If you switch your focus back and forth between a document and the screen — for instance, while taking notes or inputting changes to a document — placement of those documents is crucial. If you keep the documents too far away from the monitor, shifting your focus from the screen to the papers may lead you to make awkward, repetitive motions that cause neck and back discomfort and eye strain.
A document stand — placed between the keyboard and the monitor on a desktop computer — provides a sturdy writing surface and reduces frequent movement of the head, neck, and back, thus reducing eye strain.
7. Light your desktop with natural light or a light source that simulates natural light
Fluorescent lighting may increase your likelihood of eye strain and headaches and may even contribute to eye disease. Relying on natural light allows you to avoid the problems associated with fluorescent light and may help reduce eye strain. But don’t put yourself into too dim of an office environment, which could also cause eye strain. If you need more light than your current office environment allows, invest in an eye-friendly light that simulates natural light.