Simple Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

I was shocked to recently learn that nearly 85 percent of jobs now require computer use, and anywhere from 50-90 percent of those working on the computer reportedly suffer from visual symptoms.  This inspired me to share a few of my favorite tips for effectively reducing eye strain while on the computer.

  • Get a comprehensive vision exam

It shouldn’t be surprising that my first recommendation is to get a comprehensive vision exam. It is now recommended for computer users to receive an eye exam every year. The two things I ask my patients when they come in for an eye exam is how many hours they spend on the computer each day and their distance from the computer screen. Some people require a specific prescription for the computer distance and all glasses wearers can benefit from an anti-reflective coating, which decreases glare and eye strain.

  • Practice good visual hygiene

I advise my patients to practice the rule of 20-20-20, which means for every 20 minutes on the computer take a 20 second break and look at a target approximately 20 feet in the distance. Our eyes tend to lock into focus at a close working distance, so the break will force the focusing system to relax.  Additionally, when we are concentrating on near tasks our blink rate goes down, so consciously attempt to increase your blink rate during the break, which will help reduce the risk of dry eye.

  • Look for proper lighting

Try to avoid excessive light from outdoor sunlight with the use of drapes or shades. Harsh interior lighting can also be reduced by using fewer bulbs or fluorescent tubes. If overhead lights are particularly bothersome, consider turning them off and using floor lamps that provide indirect incandescent lighting instead. Another option is to replace fluorescent tubes with bulbs designed to simulate natural sunlight, such as “full spectrum” fluorescent bulbs. Finally, position your computer screen so windows are to your sides rather than directly in front or behind you.

  • Decrease glare, whenever possible

Anti-reflective coatings on prescription eyewear can dramatically decrease glare and eye strain. To put this in practice, try installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor, wearing dark-colored clothing and painting walls with muted colors and matte finishes. If you are considering a new computer screen, I recommend one that has a diagonal measurement of at least 19 inches. Consider switching from a cathode rate tube (CRT) monitor to a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD), which will reduce the image flicker, further decreasing eye strain and fatigue. Also, the higher the resolution (or lower the dot pitch) the better.

  • Change your computer settings

It is much easier to read when the text is at a comfortable size on your screen. Optimal font size will vary from person to person, so explore different option to find one that keeps you from having to squint to see it.  It is also much easier to read when there is increased contrast – for example, a white background with black print. The brightness of the display should be approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding work station; if your screen is a light source it is too bright, and if it seems dull and gray it may be too dark. To adjust Microsoft Windows operating systems, use the control panel, and in some cases adjustments can be made on the actual display. For an Apple computer, you will find the settings in Systems Preferences in the Applications folder in finder.


Any of these simple adjustments can help keep your eyes feeling fresh, so try one or two at a time to find a combination that offers maximum relief. And if you have any questions feel free to call or stop by the office; I would be happy to address your specific concerns or offer additional advice on how to maintain a regimen for keeping eye strain to a minimum.




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