Computer eye strain

Many people who use computers complain of eye strain. Looking at a computer monitor for a long time can strain your eyes or can make any other problems you are having with your eyes seem more noticeable.

What are the symptoms of computer eye strain?

  • Eye discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Sore, tired, burning or itchy eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light

Although eye strain can cause discomfort, it usually isn’t serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. You may not be able to change the amount of time you’re in front of a computer at work, or the factors that can cause eye strain, but you can take steps to reduce it.

Steps to reduce computer strain

Regular eye examinations can help you with clear, comfortable vision. But they also offer a broader health assessment – the optometrist checks the health of your eyes and looks for signs of other medical conditions.

When you have your test, let the optometrist know you use computers often.

Regularly look away from your computer screen and focus on distant objects. For example, take a minute to stare out of the window.

Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye, which in turn reduces eye fatigue.

Eye strain is often caused by excessive sunlight coming in through the window or by bright room lighting.

Use curtains or blinds to reduce the brightness of the sun, reduce the lighting in your room and avoid sitting under big overhead fluorescent lights.

Glare reflected from light-coloured painted walls and shiny surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen, can cause eye strain.

  • An anti-glare screen attached to your monitor can help (and is a less drastic measure than painting the walls in a darker, matt-finish paint).
  • Reduce the external light by covering windows or using a computer hood over the monitor.
  • If you’re a glasses wearer, use lenses with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. At Specsavers, lenses are available with UltraClear SuperClean - an anti-reflection and a scratch resistant coating in one.

Upgrade your display

Changing from an old-style cathode ray tube (or CRT) monitor to a modern LCD screen can help avoid eye strain.

  • CRTs can flicker, which contributes significantly to eye strain, while LCD screens are easier on the eye and usually have an anti-reflective surface.
  • When choosing a new LCD screen, pick one with the highest resolution possible.

Adjust your monitor’s settings

Adjusting your computer’s display settings can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

  • Make sure the brightness is the same as the surroundings and adjust the text size and contrast so that it is comfortable to read. Black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Adjust the monitor’s colour temperature to reduce the amount of blue colours on your screen. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light there are thoughts that this may be associated with more eye strain than longer-wavelength hues, such as orange and red.

Modify your workstation

The way you sit at your desk and arrange your equipment can affect your vision.

  • Make sure the brightness is the same as the surroundings and adjust the text size and contrast so that it is comfortable to read. Black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Adjust the monitor’s colour temperature to reduce the amount of blue colours on your screen. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light there are thoughts that this may be associated with more eye strain than longer-wavelength hues, such as orange and red.

Wear lenses specifically for computers

Wearing prescription glasses gives the greatest comfort at your computer.

If you wear contact lenses, consider wearing glasses when on your computer as contact lenses can become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work.

Eyecare at work

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.