Well. the short answer to ‘are computer screens bad for your eyes?’ the answer is ‘yes’.
But if we are able to reduce computer eye strain, I believe from just this single thing we will make a big step forward in stopping that seemingly endless decline of our eyesight over the years.
As computer eye strain is just about one of the biggest bad habits we have that leads to worsening distance vision. If you are in a regular office job like me, you seem to be glued to you are PC for most of the working week.
So how do we keep the eyes fresh and relaxed as opposed to strained and bloodshot wrecks of eyes by the end of the week?
Don’t Wear Glasses If you Can Help It
This seems to be a strange statement to make.
Glasses are to help us see comfortably right?
Well, that’s true in a sense but what happens is our eyes get too comfortable. Glasses aren’t meant to be for close up work. They should only be used for looking into the distance.
So over time when we wear glasses constantly when working at the computer, the cilary muscle locks up.
(This is the muscle that surrounds the inner lens. It is responsible for making the inner lens change shape. The inner lens should expand when you are focusing on far objects and should contract when you are focusing on near objects. So you can see what effect a ‘locked up’ cilary muscle has: it mucks up the focusing ability of the eyes).
This eventually leads to the axial lengthening of the eye ball.
So if you are eyesight is not that bad and you can see the screen comfortably without glasses, keep the glasses off!
Wearing them will only lock you are eyes into that near state. Before long your optician will be prescribing you even stronger lenses.
If you are right on the cusp of being able to see the screen comfortably, you could try increasing the scale size of the display on your PC.
The key here is to get into position where you are eyes are relaxed; there is little point in taking you are glasses off and straining to see.
Right, just removing glasses for close up work is all well and good for those of us who have OK sight, but what about those of us with high prescriptions?
Do we have to spend our lives with our faces pressed up against our screens in order to see? Thankfully, no.
In the book Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses, the writers suggest that you adapt to a series of weaker prescriptions.
This could be by using your old glasses that contain weaker lenses or ask your optician for weaker prescriptions.
I think for the latter you would have to be quite selective in who you see. I don’t think all opticians would be willing to do this so you would have to seek out an open-minded optician for this.
The writers say you are eyes will adapt to these weaker prescriptions and call this strategy progressive under correction.
Others (such as the writer of the Secret of Perfect Vision) suggest using positive lenses (so those glasses used by those with long sight for reading) for this type of close up work for limited periods.
I try whenever I remember now to use my old glasses with my old prescription and have found them OK for this close up work.
Again I think the key is to make sure you are eyes are comfortable and not strained when wearing old glasses or using positive lenses.
I have found it does take some getting used to the old glasses but that seemed to pass the more time I was wearing them.
Remember Those Regular Breaks And Blink!
Those times away from the screen are vital so we can reduce the computer eye strain and so that our eyes can focus on objects in the distance. At what point we take those breaks is debatable.
Jack Sterner of Endmyopia.org recommends a rest at least every three hours for between thirty minutes to an hour at a time.
The writers of Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses recommend getting up, stretching and walking around every 30 minutes. Also, whenever the computer is processing something, they recommend that we look at a distant object.
Furthermore, they suggest slow blinking every few minutes to prevent stress from building up. You should aim for 100 slow blinks a day they say.
There is also the 20/20/20 rule: every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
I think this advice is great but ultimately only you will know when you need a break from the screen. When you feel the strain, take a break!
Location, Location, Location
This is about making sure you have positioned you are monitor and chair correctly. Try to have the position of you are screen just below eye level. In this way you are looking down at the screen. Your neck will not be constantly strained back looking up at the screen by doing this. It also helps to maintain good posture. As does a good chair to sit on for all those working hours in a day.
Ideally, you are desk is positioned where you can get lots of natural light without the glare of the sun. If this is not possible, then you will need good lighting. Using a full spectrum UV bulb for a table lamp is recommended.
There are a number of accessories on the market that you could try to make this lengthy period of the working day more comfortable for you are eyes. They are:
* Screen magnifiers: as with a hand held magnifying glass, this fits over the computer screen so the words etc can be seen more easily
* Blue light glasses and blue light screens: these reduce the blue light emitted from the monitor and wearing the glasses could also help to reduce the glare from strong fluorescent lighting if you have that in you are office. See my review of screen protectors here.
* Pinhole glasses: by using these (probably for only a limited period though) you can focus on the screen without glasses.
Better Eyesight Here We Come!
So looking after our eyes when we are spending those hours in front of the computer each working day is vital if we are to maintain and also improve our eyesight.
Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do that can really assist in keeping our eyes relaxed.
We can also train our eyes to become less dependent on our current prescription and this should lead to weaker and weaker strength lenses in the future.