Digital Eye Strain

Ergonomics for healthy vision

woman with bad posture at computer
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Prolonged use of computers and other digital devices strain the eyes as well as other parts of the body.

Anyone who uses a computer for extended periods — whether on the job, at school or at home for enjoyment — is at risk for headaches, burning eyesred eyes, a stiff neck and other symptoms that comprise computer vision syndrome (CVS).

One way to reduce computer-related discomfort by becoming more aware of your body during computer work and adjusting your workstation and viewing habits to avoid these problems.

What is "computer ergonomics"?

Ergonomics is the science of designing a job, equipment and/or workplace to fit the worker.

The goal is to optimise the "fit" between each worker and his or her work environment to optimise performance and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Computer ergonomics (sometimes called visual ergonomics) addresses ways to optimise your computer workstation to reduce the specific risks of computer vision syndrome, neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other disorders affecting the muscles, spine and joints.

Computer ergonomics tips

You don't need an expensive consultant to create a computer workstation that reduces your risk of stress, computer eye strain and potential injury from prolonged computer use.

Here are 11 helpful computer ergonomics tips  recommended by the National Health Service (NHS):

  1. Support your back.
  2. Adjust your chair.
  3. Rest your feet on the floor.
  4. Place your screen at eye level.
  5. Position your keyboard correctly.
  6. Keep your mouse close.
  7. Avoid screen reflection.
  8. Consider computer spectacles.
  9. Make objects accessible.
  10. Avoid phone strain.
  11. Take regular breaks.

Also, you can increase your comfort and reduce physical stress by adjusting the height of your chair and desk so:

  • Your upper arms are perpendicular to the floor, not stretched forward or angled backward
  • Your forearms, wrists and hands form a 90-degree angle with your upper arms
  • Your thighs are parallel to the floor and your lower legs are perpendicular to the floor
  • Your wrists and palms are not resting on sharp edges

If you wear bifocals or trifocals, you should be able to comfortably view your computer screen without tilting your head back. If this is not the case, consider purchasing computer glasses.

Following these tips will help you avoid stressful postures that lead to headaches, neck and back pain and computer vision syndrome.

But remember, prolonged computer work — even at an ideal workstation — is stressful to your body and your eyes.

To relieve stress that can lead to computer vision syndrome and physical disorders, be sure to take frequent breaks when working long hours at a computer. Stand up and move away from your computer for short breaks every 20 to 30 minutes, if possible.

During these quick breaks, stretch your arms and back, and let your eyes relax their focus by looking at something at least 20 feet away.

Also, blink fully and frequently to reduce your risk of dry eyes from computer use, and apply artificial tears to moisten and lubricate your eyes as needed.

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