Computers and Eye Strain

 computer eye strain Avoid eye strain at work KOS irelandEYE STRAIN AND YOU

Although eyestrain is temporary and seldom damaging, this is one annoying symptom which can disrupt productivity and wellness. Some common triggers which can lead to eyestrain are reading, working on computers or executing a task which requires a lot of concentration and constant focusing of the eyes. It may not be viable to consider quitting a job because of the number of hours that one needs to spend on the computer; however it is definitely possible to minimise eyestrain and computer eyestrain symptoms by modifying the task or the process.



There are an array of symptoms usually associated with eyestrain however some of the more commonly experienced ones may well include headaches, dry eyes, blurring of vision and an inability to focus on an object. Thus regardless of whether the context is computer eyestrain symptoms or just eyestrain the diagnosis is simple.


On the contrary not all headaches could be attributed to prolonged computer use. Statistics indicate that well over 50% of all adults have suffered at least one episode of tension headaches in a one year period.  When the context is children then 15% of all children would have experienced tension headaches by the time they turn 15 years of age. The demographic perspective is that women are twice as prone to tension headaches compared to men at any point of time.



Headache causes then are best classified as tension headaches when no known cause like an underlying disease is visible. Some common suspected causes may be lack of sleep or even skipping meals.



Statistics indicate that one of the most common causes of eyestrain is working on computers for long hours without a break. This condition is better connoted as Computer Vision Syndrome in medical parlance.



One of the most fascinating treatment modality adopted for treating or preventing computer eyestrain is to use the 20:20:20 principle. This works on the concept that those who need to work for long hours on a computer must take a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object which is 20 feet away for duration of twenty seconds.




Conversely those who begin to experience a gritty feel in the eye or even suspect that they are experiencing a dry eye should ideally focus on increasing the lubrication. This is best achieved by either using drops which increase tear formation in the eyes or alternatively by consciously increasing the blink rate.



The logic is based on the basic physiology of the eye which dictates that the average blink rate of the eye is 16 to 18 times per minute and this helps form tears which in turn lubricates the eye. When working on a computer monitor the blink rate falls to 6 to 8 per minute thus leading to a ‘dry eye’ which thus increases the frequency and intensity of symptoms like eye discomfort and eyestrain.



When working on computers or reading a book, it is critical that eye strain and tension headaches are prevented or minimized. This is best achieved by maximizing the illumination and minimising the glare. Thus it is evident that computers are here to stay and so are tension headaches and eye strain unless one can find the right mix of cautions and precautions.



Incorrect lighting can increase the level of eye strain. In the workplace overhead lighting is generally over lit. As there are many people, of different gender, age and level of eyesight, it is impossible to have overhead lighting perfect for all. Computer monitors emit light, so for computer use very bright overhead lighting is not enabling people to easily see what there working on most, the computer screen. In fact it can be a cause of glare.


Conversely in an office environment the workspace is generally under lit when doing detailed tasks, like reading, working off accounts etc. It is for this reason task lighting should be used that emits light focused on the area that needs the light. Good practice demands quality of light over quantity. Using dimmer overhead lighting and focusing the light on the areas where it is needed, using task lighting will effectively reduce eye strain as well as reducing energy costs.