Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome
Relieving eye-strain while at your computer.
If you spend hours every day staring at a computer screen, you may suffer from CVS - Computer Vision Syndrome - the medical term for any symptoms associated with prolonged computer use, including: headaches, blurry vision, dry or red eyes, dizziness, or neck pain. While ibuprofen and other painkillers can temporarily relieve eyestrain, it's better to prevent CVS altogether. Here's how.
1. FIND AN OPTIMAL MONITOR POSITION
The best position for your monitor is directly in front of you. A monitor that requires you to turn to the left or right to view can cause neck and shoulder pain due to the awkward posture. Ideally, your monitor should be positioned directly in front and about 50-70 cm away from your eyes – or about arm's length. Additionally, the top of your monitor should be roughly at eye level, so you look down at your display, not up. Notebook users should ensure that their display isn't too far down, as looking down too much can cause neck problems. This can be solved with a notebook stand or even a stack of books to elevate your notebook.
Finally, tilt your monitor slightly upwards so that the base is a little bit closer to you than the top. This results in a more direct line of sight and lets you easily view the entire screen more clearly. Ensure that you don't tilt your monitor up too much, or you may experience glare from overhead lighting.
2. USE F.LUX TO AUTOMATICALLY ADJUST YOUR MONITOR COLOR
Most computer monitors have a slightly bluish color temperature. While this is suitable for working under bright, daylight conditions, when night falls and ambient light fades, the extreme brightness can become an irritant for your eyes.
If you find yourself working late hours in an office with lots of ambient light, you'll definitely want to install f.lux, a free, lightweight program for Windows, Mac and Linux that will automatically adjust the color temperature of your display in line with the current time of day.
With f.lux installed, during the day your monitor will remain bright and bluish, but as the light fades, it will change to a mellow, warmer yellowish hue that's easier on the eyes, similar to indoor incandescent lighting. f.lux also includes a one click option to revert back to natural colors temporarily if, for example, you need to edit a photo. Get f.lux from http://justgetflux.com.
3. GUNNAR OPTIKS COMPUTER GLASSES
Gunnar Optiks is a US company that specializes in glasses that reduce computer-related eyestrain. The tinted lens work by filtering out specific parts of the light spectrum from artificial light sources (such as a computer monitor) that cause your eye to work harder, resulting in better overall contrast sensitivity, and increased legibility.
Each pair of Gunnar Optiks glasses also has a slight curvature to the frame and lens shape, allowing the outer edge of the lens to sit closer to your face. Gunnar says that this actually helps maintain a more stable climate around your eyes as there's less air circulation to dry out your eyeballs. While Gunnar Optiks were previously only available in non-prescription form, the company now offers prescription eyewear ranging from +3.00 to -8.00 degrees. Get your Gunnar Optik's glasses from www.gunnars.com.
4. THE 20-20-20 RULE
The 20-20-20 rule is a handy trick to remember to give your eyes a break. The idea is, every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your monitor, find an object about 20 feet away (roughly 6 meters), and stare at it for 20 seconds.
If you have trouble remembering to take a break every 20 minutes, you can download a program that will automate reminders for you, such as BreakTaker for Windows (breaktaker.software.informer.com) or Dejal's TimeOut for Mac OSX (www.dejal.com/timeout).
5. TRAIN YOUR EYES WITH EYE DEFENDER
One of the problems with extended computer use is that we tend to stare at the same part of the screen for hours at a time. Word processors, spreadsheets and web browsers all have the information located in the middle of the screen, and as a result your eyeballs rarely shift anywhere else. This has the undesired effect of focusing your gaze constantly in one place, cramping up your eye muscles, which is why they start to ache.
Eye Defender is a free program for Windows that offers a break timer with a Visual Training mode. It can be setup to suggest a break on a regular interval (45 minutes by default – but you can set it as low as every 2 minutes). In training mode, Eye Defender will black out your screen and then display some icons that will appear around your screen and then move around. Your job is to focus on these icons as they appear and follow them around with your eyes without moving your neck (similar to when an optometrist tells you to follow a light with your eyes). This training forces all of the muscles in your eyes to work and stretch, reducing cramping and fatigue. Get Eye Defender from www.eterlab.com/eyedefender.