Updated 16 January 2015

Eyecare for computer users

A job involving looking at a computer screen for long periods of time can cause eyestrain which can lead to vision problems. Here's what you can do to help your eyes.

Why users of computers should take  care?

A job involving looking at a computer screen for long periods of time can cause eyestrain and can worsen existing vision problems or reveal previously undiagnosed problems.

Using your eyes intensely for close vision can lead to the discomfort of headaches, blurred or double vision, flickering feelings or itching eyes. Productivity may well be affected.

Read: Six ways to reduce computer eye strain

How can a change of spectacles help?

Previously adequate spectacles or contact lenses may be inadequate for the demands of computer screen use.  The loss of near focusing ability caused by the eyes’ natural ageing may necessitate special spectacles for the distance of the screen.  Far-sighted people may suddenly find their eyes straining to maintain clear focus at screen distance.  The common problem of astigmatism may be aggravated, resulting in blurred vision.

Have special ‘extras’ been developed for computer?

Yes. Lenses such as Multifocals (or Varifocals) have been developed, as well as specialised intermediate lenses to give clear vision for the screen and keyboard.  Anti-reflection coatings and various tints may be applied to spectacles to help cut glare off screens.

Can changes in the work situation help?

Yes. Note the following essentials:

1.  Place the screen approximately 500 - 600mm from your adjustable chair, with the top of the screen just below eye level.

2.  The screen should be able to swivel and tilt, have brightness and contrast controls and a separate keyboard.

3.  Place an adjustable holder for text close to your screen.

4.  If you work at a screen all day, change to another task briefly for a few minutes at hourly intervals to give your eyes a break from staring at the computer screen.

5.  Ensure the lighting around your screen is not too bright so that there is a greater contrast between the words on the screen and the screen itself. Install a dimmer switch on your light if possible.

6.  To trace the source of glare, place a small mirror on the screen which will show up the culprit - light bulbs, windows etc. If necessary move your screen.  Try not to have an uncurtained window directly in front or behind you.

7.  Insist on an anti-glare screen.

Remember that eating foods rich in carotenoids, such as kale, raw spinach, and other leafy dark green vegetables can prevent vision problems.

Read: Tips for good eye care

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