• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eye Strain

After spending so many hours at the computer during my rewrite, I've developed a serious case of eyestrain, to the point even reading a book causes my eyes to ache. Along the lines of don't let this happen to you, here is a copy of a helpful article from Office Ergonomics Training on how to avoid eyestrain. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!!!

A Dozen Things You Should Know About Eye Strain
1. Eyestrain means different things to different people. It can be experienced as burning, tightness, sharp pains, dull pains, watering, blurring, double vision, headaches, and other sensations, depending on the person. If you have any eye discomfort caused by viewing something, you can call it eyestrain.

2. In VDT workstations, the principal factors affecting the ability to see well are:
the luminance (brightness) difference between what is being looked at and its immediate environment
he amount of light
the distance between the eye and the screen and document
the readability of the screen and document
the worker's vision and his or her corrective lenses

3. Watch out for direct glare. Direct glare involves a light source shining directly into the eyes --- ceiling lights, task lights, or bright windows. To determine the degree of direct glare, you can temporarily shield your eyes with a hand and notice whether you feel immediate relief.

4. Reflected glare, such as on computer screens, sometimes causes eyestrain. But its worst effect may be causing you to change your posture to an uncomfortable one, in order to see well.

5. The most overlooked cause of eyestrain in offices is contrast --- usually, a dark screen surrounded by a bright background such as a window or a lit wall. The best solution is to find a way to darken the area around the screen. This problem occurs mainly on screens with light letters on a black background.

6. How much light is right? It depends on your age, the quality of the print you're reading, and other factors. There should be plenty of light for easy reading, but too much can, depending on the person, cause eyestrain.

7. Eyes are strained more by close viewing than by distant viewing. The "right" distance for computer monitors and documents depends entirely on how clearly they can be read at a given distance. The general rule is to keep viewed material as far away as possible, provided it can be read easily!!!

8. If you gaze at something too long, your eyes can tire. Eyes need to focus at different distances from time to time. It's a good idea to follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.

9. If two objects are only a couple of inches different in their distance from the eyes, the eyes actually do NOT have to refocus to look from one to another.

Greater distance differences, however, can overwork the eyes if you have to look from one object to another frequently - -- as when typing from printed copy and looking at the screen. In general, keep viewed objects at about the same distance if you have to look back and forth a lot.

10. Can computer work cause nearsightedness? Rarely, according to optometrists. It's more likely that computer work makes you realize that you need glasses.

11. Sometimes eyestrain is just a case of dry eyes. Lowering the monitor can help. Looking downward means more of the eye surface is covered by the eyelid, and two other things happen: the eyes unconsciously blink more, and they produce more lubrication.

Here's more information on why you should consider a low monitor position.

12. People who need bifocals should consider other options besides bifocals. Two good ones are:
Computer glasses that focus at the right distance for the computer screen.
Wearing contact lenses --- corrected for computer or reading distance in one eye, and for far distance (if needed) in the other eye.

13. Bifocal wearers often experience sore necks and shoulders because they have to tip their heads back to see the computer screen.
Lower the screen as much as possible --- if it sits on the CPU, move the CPU.
If necessary, remove the monitor's tilt-swivel base (consult a computer hardware person first) to gain a couple additional inches.
Lower the work surface that the monitor sits on.

I know, there are 13 and the title says a dozen. What can I tell you? Did you find the article helpful? Any eyestrain stories you'd like to share? Any specific things you do to avoid eyestrain?


  1. Good luck with the rewrite Wendy, hopoe it brings you good news x

  2. Give those peepers a bit of a beauty rest :-) I have noticed that my eyesight has gotten progressively worse this year. Age and muscle strain issues. I have glasses, prescription for work and 2X strength reading glasses all over the house. I even have an el cheapo pair in the laundry room so I can read the dang labels.

    I try to think of them as a fashion accessory:-)

  3. My boss told me yesterday to "Stop scowling at the computer." Noting the glasses perched on the top of my head like a headband, rather than the bridge of my nose, he gave me the name of his eye doctor.

  4. I guess I'm lucky. Having cataract surgery cured my near-sightedness and I seldom have any eye strain these days. Hope you're feeling better.

  5. Thanks Susan....hopefully my news will be as good as yours!

    Hi Christine!
    I've had a pair of glasses for years now, but have managed to make do without them. I think it's time to give in!!!

    Hi Taryn!
    I'm going to try to play with my lighting a bit and see if that helps. If not, I'll try my old glasses then magnifiers. Last resort...the eye doctor.

    Hi Janet!

    Maybe cataract surgery is the answer!!! But I'll wait a few more years to find out. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Also consider enlarging your font, at least for a few days, to give your eyes a break. And remember not to sit too close to your screen (about arm's length is correct) -- I have no-line bifocals, but I don't use the "close-focus" region when I read the screen, because the screen is far enough away.

    My biggest problem used to be that I'd lean into the screen so that my nose was almost touching it! Fortunately I broke myself of that habit some years ago to the benefit of both my eyes and my back.

  7. Thanks John!
    I hadn't thought of enlarging the font. I'll give it a try!

  8. Thanks Regina!
    Not as entertaining as your posts on your blog, but I'm glad you found the info. helpful.

  9. I've had to give in and get a pair of glasses this year, for exactly that reason--eye strain. Just being on the computer for a couple of hours use to give me monster headaches. Now my eyes are so used to the glasses I have to wear them to read anything. And I turn the font size up on EVERYTHING just so I can see it better, even WITH the glasses. I say if you need glasses, hon, give in and go get some! your eyes will thank you for it! Hope they feel better soon!

  10. Thanks Joanne!
    I noticed the pages you sent me for critique were in 14 font. I wasn't sure if that was for me or for you!!!

  11. Oh, I do that b/c Times New Roman 14pt is similar in size to courier 12pt (I'm not fond of courier... I can't see it that well). So my page counts come out very close to each other for when I have to switch to courier for printing. Easier to keep track of my word counts that way.

  12. Wendy--I wanted to email you directly to congratulate you on your two contest second place finishes!! Way to go!! I am so stoked for you--see you in Orlando!

  13. I learned a lot from this post. I spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a computer screen. Wearing computer glasses helped a lot to decrease the strain, but every once in a while I shut my eyes to let it rest.