Focus on eye health for computer users

Young woman staring at computer screen

Original image  by Art Prestige studio.  © Used by permission

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Our increasing use of computers and gadgets have the greatest impact on our eyes. Many of us work with computers all day and then use smartphones and watch TV on breaks or after work. The result? Eye strain, dry eyes (or teary-eyes) and headaches have become the most common maladies we hear about.

Aside from regulating your tech use, here are a few tips to prevent eye problems and keep your eyes healthy:

  1. Organize your workstation

    If you work on computers all day, make sure that your table, chair and equipment are arranged to support efficiency and prevent straining your eyes. The top of your computer screen should be higher than your line of sight (your eyes should be level to the address bar of a web site), and the distance of your computer should be an arm’s length away. Also, make sure that the documents you use are within view by using a copy holder. (For a video on how to set up an ergonomic workstation, go to the article Common health issues related to technology use).

  2. Upgrade your display and adjust your computer display settings

    If you are still using an old tube-style monitor (cathode ray tube – CRT), consider upgrading to a flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD). LCDs usually have an anti-reflective surface and do not flicker like the old CRTs. Also, check the brightness, text size and contrast, and color temperature of your display (right click on your desktop and choose “display settings”). Brightness level should be approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. You can also increase or decrease the size of the letters on your screen to know what is comfortable for you to read (larger than 10 points if you work with long documents to prevent squinting). Black text on white background is best.

  3. Establish proper lighting

    Avoid harsh sunlight through a window or overly bright indoor lighting. This can cause eye strain and irritating glare on the screen. Eliminate or minimize exterior light by using drapes or blinds and use fewer light bulbs in your office or room. You can also position your computer monitor or screen to the side of a light source, not in front or behind it.

  4. Rest your eyes by taking breaks

    Have you heard about the 20/20/20 rule? Here’s a video from Safety Memos to show you how to practice it:

    You can install these free computer programs to remind you to take a break: BreakTaker for PC or Dejal Time Out for Mac.

  5. Visit your eye doctor regularly

    Sometimes headaches and dizziness are caused by vision problems that can be fixed by using the right prescription glasses. Getting a comprehensive eye check-up is the best way to prevent and treat vision problems. It is recommended that you get a checkup once a year, especially if your work requires being in the front of the computer all day.

  6. Wear eye protection

    Computer glasses have lens coatings to reduce glare and a tint to eliminate eye strain. The best way to acquire computer glasses is to check with an eye care professional so that you can have the right prescription and optimum lens power that will fit you perfectly.

  7. Eat healthy and don’t smoke

    Eating a well-balanced diet can prevent diseases and illnesses that can affect eye health. Foods rich in nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E are recommended, especially to help to ward off age-related vision problems. Smoking has been known to make you more prone to eye diseases and weaken the optic nerve, so don’t pick up the habit (or if you’re already smoking, please quit).

Sources: Computer eye strain: 10 steps for relief by Larry Heiting OD and Larry K. Wan OD for All About Vision.com; The 20-20-20 rule, Canadian Association of Optometrists; Eye care essentials for computer users, the University of Rochester Medical Center; How to maintain good eye health, WebMD.

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Community Resources

Did you know that your Manitoba Health insurance covers eye check-ups for kids under the age of 19 years and 65 years and older? Also, all residents, regardless of age, are entitled to coverage of an eye exam when warranted by medical conditions as determined by the eye care provider. To know more about your Manitoba Health Care Coverage, visit the site.

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Focus on eye health for computer users

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