Computer Eye Strain

What are the symptoms of computer eye strain? Read more about visual ergonomics and on computer eyestrain prevention.

What is computer eyestrain?

Eye strain (aka asthenopia) is a grouped of symptoms caused when the eyes are overused and feel very 'heavy' such that you are not able to concentrate on your work for long periods of time.

The ciliary muscles that surround the eye tighten up which causes the strain. This causes the eyes to get irritated and uncomfortable. It is commonly associated with computer vision syndrome which is eye strain caused by computer usage.

How is strain on the eyes caused in the office?

From the extended use of the eyes intensively focused at the same distance without rest. This normally refers to focusing on the computer screen at work but it can also be caused by focusing on a document continuously.

A number of conditions are also contributing factors to eye strain

  • Working under dim light
  • Working with glaring light
  • Glare may come from

    1.Direct glare into the eyes from ceiling/ desk lights or light coming in from the window

    2.Reflected glare from the computer screen

  • Working in an environment that exposes the eyes to dry air/ moving air from heating/ air conditioning causes eye strain as well
  • Working too closely to the monitor
  • Poor readability of the words on the computer (i.e. small font)
  • Contrast between the monitor brightness and the brightness surrounding the screen

  • Are your eyes strained? Do you have eyestrain?

    Symptoms of Eye Strain

    1. Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes

    2. Watery eyes

    3. Dry eyes

    4. Blurred or double vision

    5. Sore neck

    6. Sore back

    7. Shoulder pain

    8. Increased sensitivity to light

    9. Headache

    10. Having trouble shifting your focus between monitor and paper documents

    11. Seeing color fringes or afterimages when you look away from the monitor

    Prevent Eyestrain

    Although strain on your eyes can be annoying, it usually is not serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. There are no long-term consequences.

    How to prevent/treat eyestrain

    1. Take breaks by getting away from the computer desk for a few minutes

    2. Eyes need to focus at different distances from time to time. It's a good idea to follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds

    3. Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help re-wet your eyes.

    4. Blinking is very important when working at a computer; it re-wets your eyes to avoid dryness and irritation

    5. Massaging the temples with your eyes closed for a minute may alleviate the symptoms

    6. It is recommended that the viewing distance be around 45 inches away at horizontal eye level or 35 inches away with a 30-degree downward gaze angle

    7. The general rule is to keep viewed material as far away as possible, provided it can be read easily. There is no such thing as sitting too far away from the screen as long as you can comfortably read what is on the screen! And don't forget that you can increase the font on the screen by zooming into the webpage, document or changing the resolution on the screen.

    8. keep viewed objects at about the same distance if you have to look back and forth a lot eg. Reading paper documents and looking at the screen to perform a task

    9. Looking downward means more of the eye surface is covered by the eyelid, and two other things happen: the eyes unconsciously blink more, and they produce more lubrication

    10. Computer glasses put the optimum lens power for viewing your computer screen right where you need it for a clear, wide field of view without the need for excessive focusing effort or unhealthful postures. The simplest computer glasses have single vision lenses.

    11. a. This lens power relaxes the amount of accommodation required to keep objects in focus at the distance of the computer screen and provides the largest field of view

      b. The lenses can be tinted to remove reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses that can cause eye strain. They also reduce glare caused by harsh overhead lighting found in many office environments

      Read more about these unique computer glasses

    Prevent Eye Strain with Computer Glasses

    GAMMA RAY FLEXLITE Computer Reading Glasses

    See also Visual Ergonomics and Monitor Ergonomics for more information.

    Article references

    Thank you for reading 'Computer Eye Symptoms'!

    Go back to Musculoskeletal Disorders (Computer Injuries).

    Return from Eye Strain to Ergonomics Info Home

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