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Computer-related eye strain is a common workplace complaint, as many employees spend full shifts in front of a computer without a break. In addition to causing eye strain which can lead to squinting, dry eyes, and general discomfort, prolonged periods of staring at a monitor can lead to other physical stresses as well, if the environment is not ergonomically arranged. Always set up your workspace to protect your eyes, along with the rest of the body, because it will keep you healthier and more productive. There are a number of steps you can take to do this so that you will not feel strained and tired when you arrive home from work.
To begin with, make sure that your workspace is arranged to keep you comfortable. The ambient light level should be low and diffused, with no glare. Keep windows to the side of you, rather than directly ahead or behind, to minimize glare.
Adjust the brightness of your computer screen; your screen's lighting should match the general light level in the room, without being too bright or too dim. Try bringing up a blank word processing document and looking at the screen. If the white of the page is glowing, your screen is too bright, but if it looks dingy, the screen is not bright enough.
Set up your desk so that your screen is approximately 20 to 26 inches (50 to 66 centimeters) away from you, and slightly below eye level. If you work with paper documents, protect your eyes by keeping them at the same level as your computer screen, so that your eyes do not have to constantly readjust.
During your working day, look away from the screen to a distant point approximately every 10 minutes. Every half hour, take a full break, stepping away from the computer to walk and stretch. This will protect your eyes and your body, preventing you from slumping into poor posture, which may lead to back pain and repetitive stress injury. Make sure to blink frequently, and use artificial tears or eye drops if your eyes start to feel dry. If the screen is hard to read, try resizing the text or changing the resolution to make it easier.
You should also protect your eyes by getting an annual eye exam if you work with computers. During the exam, an optometrist can check on the health of your eyes and talk with you about ways to protect them at work. You may, for example, need a special glasses prescription for computer work. An annual eye exam will also catch any serious problems with your optical health early.