If your job exposes you to prolonged use of a computer and you’re at risk of computer eye strain, you may be able to ask your employer to fund an eye test for you. Your employer will only be expected to pay for the test if it shows that you need spectacles prescribed for the distance your screen is viewed at.
If your standard optical prescription is suitable for your computer work, your employer will not have to pay.
Protecting Your Eyes From Computer Eye Strain
People who use electronic screens over a prolonged period are affected more than those reading printed material for a number of reasons. Electronic devices give off glare or reflection, and can often feature poor contrast between the text and backround, unlike printed matter which is more often than not white on black.
Another problem for computer or tablet users is the blue light emitted from screens. While there is a lot of publicity surrounding the UVA or UVB light given off by electronic screens, fewer people are aware of the damage blue light can have on the retina.
Blue light can penetrate the retina, while UV light does not. Laboratory tests have shown that blue light in certain spectrums can cause retinal cell death.
In addition, studies have shown that exposure to blue light in the evening can lead to suppression of malatonin secretion, disrupting the brains natural cycles for sleep and waking.
The angle & distance you view your screen from can also significantly influence the level of strain on your eyes with prolonged use, therefore it’s important to ensure that your workstation has been properly assessed and set up correctly.
5 Steps to Reduce Risk of Computer Eye Strain
1. Upgrade Your Lenses With Blue Light Filters
Order new lenses for your glasses that include a filter for blue light, making sure that you have had a recent eye test. If you’ve not had an eye test within the last 2 years, you should definitely book and appointment with your local optician as your prescription may have changed.
A blue light filter often known as a blue shield will reduce the effects on your eyes as outlined above.
2. Change Your Computer Screen
Many people are still using older CRT (cathode ray tube) screens that give off a noticeable flicker that can put strain on the eyes. Modern LCD/LED screens feature a much higher resolution that are much easier on the eye.
LCD/LED screens are also typically larger and reduce squinting and don’t give off the flicker that’s common with older CRT screens. A screen size of 19 inches or more is generally recommended.
3. Check Your Computer Screen Display Settings
Most modern screens feature settings that control brightness and contrast. Both Microsoft Windows & Apple OSX operating systems enable you to adjust the settings with an on screen wizard that should help you to get the best setup for your particular screen.
Many LCD/LED screens also come with drivers that enable Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX to better recognise your screen and apply the appropriate settings.
4. Take Regular Breaks From Your Computer
If you’re a frequent computer user or work on a computer for prolonged periods, it’s important to structure regular breaks into your day. Research has shown that productivity can be significantly improved when taking regular breaks from your screen.
It’s important to move around during your breaks, excercising your arms, legs, neck & shoulders to reduce the risk of tension and fatigue.
5. Modify Your Workstation Environment
While not directly related to your eyes, a good posture is essential to help avoid computer eye strain if you’re in front of your computer for prolonged periods. Chairs are available that are specifically designed for sitting at a computer or desk, with various back supports. You may also find that a footrest helps to maintain a comfortable position when working.
Ensure that your screen is positioned between 20 and 24 inches from your eyes. The centre of the screen should be angled around 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes to give the best possible level of comfort for your head and neck.