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How can I Protect my Eyes from the Computer?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon934332 — On Feb 20, 2014

I have been working with this problem and trying out different techniques for years, and have found something that really works: doing a baking soda mask after using the computer. There is plenty of information on this procedure in the internet for beauty purposes, etc., but it works wonders for computer fatigue, eye fatigue after computer use, feeling like a zombie after hours at the computer, etc.

You simply make a paste of baking soda and warm water and apply it to your face. Leave it on for about five minutes, maybe a little more, then wash it off. When I do this after hours at the computer, I feel like the tiredness in my face and head is completely lifted away, I feel totally refreshed, like new. The only side effect is that it dries your skin, so it is good to apply some moisturizer on your face afterwards. (I prefer warm sesame oil or warm olive oil for this purpose, as they're much healthier for the face than commercial moisturizers)

Why does this work? Baking soda is known to suck away negative or harmful energies from the body; baking soda, or baking soda/salt, baking soda/epsom salt baths are well-known for this purpose. Not everyone might believe in such an apparently mysterious means of action. This doesn't matter, however, since it works whether one believes in it or not.

Wishing everyone good health, in spite of computer use!

By anon309933 — On Dec 19, 2012

Castor oil is good to apply on eyes or the whole face before sleeping daily if you are doing such work. That will help you reduce stress and dark circles which are caused by such work. Also it will keep you wrinkle free.

By julies — On Nov 21, 2012

I wear contacts all day long and by the end of the day my eyes are really dry. I notice this is much worse during the week than on the weekends, and I know it must be from all the computer work I do.

I have to put drops in frequently throughout the day. The only bad part about this is that the relief is only temporary. The drops feel good right away, but after some time has passed, I feel like my eyes need more drops so they aren't so dry.

I also worry about my posture when I am at my computer all day long. I have tried to make my workspace ergonomic so I don't put as much strain on my body. I find this is a constant battle, because after awhile I realize I am slumping in my chair and need to straighten up or stand up and walk around.

By golf07 — On Nov 20, 2012

There are a couple things I do to make working at my computer easier on my eyes. The first thing I do is make sure I have proper lighting. I like having a bright light right next to the computer screen. All I have at work are overhead lights, so I bring in a small desk light and have it on my desk right next to my computer.

I also have a little gadget that connects to the side of my computer monitor. I clip papers that I am working on here. This way my eyes stay at one level instead of constantly moving up and down as I need to type something.

By myharley — On Nov 20, 2012

I am so fortunate to have a window in my office. This is a great way for me to take a break from looking at my computer screen all the time. I know many people are not nearly this lucky. When I get tired of looking at the screen, I just look outside for a few minutes. It is also a great way to know what the weather is doing outside.

By Mykol — On Nov 19, 2012

You hear a lot about protecting your eyes from the sun, but not so much about protecting them from the computer. Most people probably spend more time in front of the computer than they do outside in the sun, so I can understand why this is so important.

At the end of a long workday my eyes are usually very tired. I try to take frequent breaks throughout the day, but sometimes this isn't always possible.

I know when I get home at night, the last thing I want to do is get on the computer or look at an electronic reader. I am ready to give my eyes a break from the screen and do something else.

By anon151118 — On Feb 09, 2011

On this site is an ad for ViewGuard Anti-Glare Products. Anyone try a ViewGuard for your screen? What do you think? I need to get rid of the glare. It is giving me headaches.

By anon132929 — On Dec 08, 2010

I think I may have developed myopia from this. Wish i could've learned this earlier.

By IceCarver — On Oct 12, 2010

As a doctor I can tell you there is one very important thing to remember about your eyes and looking at a computer screen. Very often people will rub their eyes with their hands not only our of exhaustion but also as a means of relieving stress.

The problem with this is that computer keyboards are very dirty places and carry many types of bacterial diseases. When you type and then touch your eyes you are introducing sickness into your body that can be very harmful. Use proper care and wash your hands before and after using the computer.

It sounds basic but it really can make a difference between a healthy computer use and a sick one.

By fitness234 — On Oct 12, 2010

A big danger to prolonged computer use that is very dangerous is the dryness that can occur for eyes that have contact lenses. We as humans tend to blink less when we are staring at a screen and this can lead the the drying of our corrective lenses.

People who wear contacts might want to consider either consciously blinking every while or even using a few drops of lubricating fluid every time they feel their eyes start to dry out.

These drops are nice but one must be careful not to get their eyes too used to the extra lubrication or your eyes will stop lubricating themselves properly.

By jeancastle00 — On Oct 12, 2010

I have found that if I focus on the screen for too long of a time then I will have a hard time focusing on something else for a little while after leaving the computer.

To avoid this I simply focus on a wall at least ten feet away for a little while every few minutes while using my computer.

I think it is so important for everyone to learn how to protect your eyes from the stress of computer use.

By MrPolitic99 — On Oct 12, 2010

As someone who works at a computer for eight hours a day I can tell you it helps me a lot if I take off my glasses. This only works if you are near sighted of course but if that is the case this can be a real saver of stress from your eyes.

You may also want to think about your posture and wrists positions because those can also take a major toll on your health if you are not careful.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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