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10 ways to combat eye strain in the office

Walk into any office and you’ll see the majority of the workforce glued to their computer screens. Then when they get a break or stop for lunch, they’ll probably just exchange their large screens for a smaller one as they stare at their phones!

A growing problem

Perhaps it’s no wonder that computer eye strain is becoming a real problem for office workers with over half of screen users reporting some symptoms. Everything from physical fatigue, decreased productivity, headaches, blurred vision and red, sore eyes can be a symptom.

Reducing eye strain

The good news is that if you take some simple steps to look after your eyes and think about how you work, you can reduce or eliminate most eye strain problems really quickly. It’s probably not practical to reduce the number of hours you use a computer at work, but here are 10 simple things you can do that will make a big difference:

1. Get regular eye tests

Make sure you have a regular eye exam as this will help identify any eye strain problems. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommend that all computer users should have an eye test before they start work and then annually after that.

2. Make sure your glasses are suitable

If you normally wear glasses or contact lenses, check with your optician if they’re suitable for screen work. They can test how well your eyes focus at different distances and if necessary correct your prescription or prescribe bifocal or progressive lenses which help your eyes adjust.

3. Get the lighting right

If your office lighting is too bright or too harsh, or you have bright sunlight coming in on your workspace, this can cause eye strain. Block exterior light with blinds or shades and make sure you position your monitor so that windows are to the side of you and not directly in front or behind. Rather than using overhead fluorescent lights, you might find it helps to use floor lamps that emit a softer light.

4. Minimise glare

Reflections on your computer screen or glare bouncing off light walls or shiny surfaces can cause problems for your eyes. A darker or more matte finish is much better for your walls or you can install an anti-glare screen on your monitor.

5. Change your monitor

The modern LCD screens similar to those you get on a laptop are much kinder to the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. If you’re still using an old-style cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, ask your employer if it’s possible to change it to an LCD screen and choose one with the highest resolution possible.

6. Adjust your settings

Making a few small adjustments to the settings on your monitor or computer can make a big difference. Adjust the brightness to suit your surroundings and alter the text size and contrast to make it as comfortable to read as possible. Black print on a white background is the best combination and try to reduce the amount of blue on your screen – blue light is a short-wave length light that is associated with eye strain far more than longer wave length colours like orange and red.

7. Blink regularly

It’s really easy for your eyes to get dry and irritated when you’re staring at a screen all day. Blinking keeps your eyes moist but you blink one-third less when using a computer than you would normally. Try to make a conscious effort to blink more regularly and your eyes will benefit. If your eyes feel really uncomfortable, your optician will be able to recommend some lubricating eye drops to relieve the symptoms.

8. Re focus

Don’t let your eyes get focus fatigue. If you’re constantly focusing on your screen, get into the habit of looking away at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. This will relax the muscles in your eyes and help protect them from strain. Some opticians refer to this as the 20:20:20 rule.

9.Take a break

Try to get in the habit of physically moving away from your computer screen every now and then. Get up to make a drink, sit somewhere else, and have some thinking time or talk to a colleague rather than sending an email. Short, frequent breaks are more beneficial than occasional longer breaks.

10. Think about your posture

Make sure that you’re sitting comfortably as you work. Your computer screen should be 20 to 24 inches from your eyes and the centre of your screen should be 10 to 15 degrees below your eye line. It’s also really important that your desk and chair are suitable for the type of work you do and capable of improving your posture, keeping you sitting correctly. At Rainbow Zebra we have a range of ergonomic office desks and chairs which will do just that.

Let us take the strain

At Rainbow Zebra, we’re always happy to help out wherever we can. If you need advice about setting up the way you work to combat eye strain or would like more information about our special range of ergonomic furniture, just give us a call on 0800 092 1985 and we’ll be delighted to help you.                    

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