With our increasing reliance on digital devices for reading documents, communicating with others (video calls), and even attending remote hearings, many people are experiencing issues with their eyes after prolonged exposure to screens. Here’s how to reduce eye strain.
There are many ways that eye strain can be avoided and/or mitigated and, having looked through the various resources, I can summarise the advice on how to reduce eye strain as follows:
Physical Set-up of Computer
- Make sure your computer screen is about 25 inches, or an arm’s length, away from your face.
- The center of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level.
- Cut glare by using a matte screen filter. You can find them for all types of computers, phones, and tablets. (see ‘Useful Links’ below)
Technological Set-up of Computer
- Raise the contrast on your screen.
- Make text larger.
- Change the brightness of the screen. It shouldn’t be lighter or darker than your surroundings.
- Lower the colour temperature of your screen. That means it will give off less blue light, which is linked to more eye strain. (More Information below)
- Raise the device’s refresh rate. That will cause less flickering of the screen. (More Information below)
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Take a longer break of about 15 minutes after every 2 hours you spend on your devices.
- Make sure the lighting in the room you’re in is bright enough. You don’t want your device to be brighter than the surroundings.
- Try putting a humidifier in the room where you most often use a computer or other device.
- Use eye drops to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
- If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.
- Get regular eye exams. You might need to use a different pair of glasses when you’re working on a computer.
Most monitors let you adjust the colour temperature manually. It’s best to use a warmer (yellowish) colour temperature in dark rooms and a colder (bluer) colour temperature in bright rooms. The easiest way to optimise your monitor’s colour temperature is to use F.lux. This app uses your computer’s location to determine whether the sun is up or down, then it automatically adjust your display to pre-determined colour temperatures that best match the natural lighting environment.
Colour temperatures are measured in degrees of Kelvin, with the scale ranging from 1,000 to 10,000. During the daylight hours, it’s best to keep your monitor relatively cool with a default colour temperature of 6,500K. At night, the colour temperature should be warmer, and around 3,400K. You can adjust your monitor’s settings manually, or you can let f.lux make the changes for you. The app also has some presets with specific colour temperatures that you can select from.
F.lux is free and available on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and some Android devices. If your Android phone can’t run the F.lux app, you can check out Twilight. The app performs a similar function by reducing the blue light of your phone and warming the color temperature during evening hours.
A refresh rate is the number of times your monitor updates with new images each second. For example, a 60 Hz refresh rate means the display updates 60 times per second. A higher refresh rate results in a smoother picture.
For instructions on how to change your refresh rate in Windows, click here.
For instructions on how to change your refresh rate on a Mac, click here.
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