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October 10, 2022

How can I reduce eye strain at work? (10 Easy Ways)

We’ve all been there — 3 p.m. rolls around, you’re sitting at work, the pixels start bleeding together and melting off the screen. The culprit is eye strain, a problem that affects two-thirds of Americans and 80% of children between the ages of 10-17.

What causes eye strain?

Our eyes naturally contract when looking at something, like a screen, book, or cellphone. If you don’t give your eyes enough time to relax, the muscles get tired and eye strain occurs.

Eye strain is also exacerbated by blue light, the type of LED light emitted by computer and phone screens. Unlike natural light, blue light has shorter wavelengths and is linked to problems like eye strain, macular degeneration, and cataracts. Blue light glasses help filter out blue light and reduce eye strain at work. 

What are the symptoms of eye strain?

  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Eye watering
  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Eyelid spasms
  • Heavy eyelids or an inability to keep your eyes open

How do we combat this rising trend? Here are the best ways to reduce eye strain at work!

How to reduce eye strain

Ways to Reduce Eye Strain at Work

1. The 20-20-20 Rule

A simple rule-of-thumb is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, you should look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a chance to rest periodically throughout the day. Lack of rest is probably the biggest factor in eye strain. We’ll cover this more in a second.

A 2013 study found that participants who followed the 20-20-20 rule reported fewer symptoms of eye strain.

2. Rest

Rest is by far the most effective way to reduce eye strain. Imagine how your legs would feel after running for eight hours straight— that’s what’s happening to your eyes when you stare unblinkingly at a screen all day. Don’t run your eyes ragged, they’re the only two you got!

3. Blink

Healthy eyes need to blink! Every time you blink, a microscopic tear film covers your eyes which helps with your focus and clears debris. If you don’t blink often enough, your eye will become irritated and your cornea will swell from a lack of oxygen.

4. Adjust Your Workspace

If possible, you should try to position your workstation away from windows to avoid excessive glare from the sun. Overhead iridescent or fluorescent lights can do a number on your eyes as well, especially if the walls of your office are a reflective color like white. Ideally, your computer screen should be the brightest light in the room. Speaking of which…

5. Adjust Your Screen Settings

Your screen should be just bright enough to read text comfortably without straining. Your monitor refresh rate can also be a factor leading to eye strain. Experts suggest adjusting your display settings to the highest possible refresh rate.

If you find yourself squinting, you should also consider increasing the text size on your monitor. Screens should be positioned directly in front of you and slightly below eye level to maximize comfort.

6. Keep Your Screens Clean

Dirt, grime, and dust will cake up on your screens over time, affecting your ability to focus. Giving your screen a good wipe-down once a week will do your eyes a big favor.

7. Wear Glasses Over Contacts

If dry eye is one of your main symptoms, you’re probably better off wearing glasses over contacts. Contacts have a tendency to dry out, even when you’re not staring at blue light for eight hours straight. Your eyes will thank you.

8. Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears can actually be an effective tool in combating eye strain, especially for contact wearers. Tears are an essential part of the eye’s function, helping us to focus and protecting our cornea from airborne debris.

9. Wear Blue Light Glasses

Too much screen time can cause headaches, dry eye and blurred vision. Blue light glasses are great way to combat this. Blue light glasses have a special coating that blocks out lower frequencies of light.

10. Have Routine Eye Exams

The most important thing you can do to avoid the negative long-term effects of eye strain is to have regular eye exams with your optometrist. Most eye problems develop over a long period of time, so it’s important to catch them early before they progress.

Visit Wisconsin Vision to schedule an eye exam today!

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