If you work in front of a computer all day, you're familiar with that irritated, fuzzy, and tired feeling your eyes have by the end of the afternoon. Everything starts to get a little blurry and sometimes your head aches. This cluster of symptoms is known as eye strain or computer vision syndrome, and it's a unique malady of our modern era, one that more than 60% of Americans experience.
It doesn't take long to start experiencing eye strain symptoms -- just two hours in front of a screen starts to put people at risk, an amount of time that's incredibly easy to hit when you combine computer work, smartphone usage, television, tablets, and other screens. It almost seems inevitable.
Fortunately, there are a few things that experts say you can do to minimize the discomfort and potential damage of staring at a glowing screen all day. Here are four easy-to-implement tips that will make a huge difference:
Staring at small text can make you squint and put your face closer to a screen, leading to fatigue and headaches, among other issues - so boost text size and color contrast to make things easier to read.
When we stare at screens, we forget to blink, which dries out our eyes. It's hard to remember, but trying to make sure you keep blinking can help. Eye drops are another simple and useful way to keep eyes from getting too dry.
Screen glare can cause eye strain and headaches. Adjust your brightness to avoid reflections on your screen or consider getting an anti-glare film.
The 20-20-20 rule
After 20 minutes of work, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. Your eyes have muscles that help them move and focus on different objects, but if we stare at a screen the same distance away for hours at a time, those muscles have a hard time adjusting once we move again.