The Curse of the Small Screen: Protecting Your Eyes from Computer Glare

  • BY Lainie Petersen

rubbing eyes

Technology is awesome. Headaches and eye irritation from staring at a computer screen all day? Not so much. While eyestrain can be caused by a number of factors, working in front of a computer monitor is a big contributor to the problem.

Here are some things you can do to reduce computer eye strain:

    • Pay attention to monitor placement: The National Institutes of Health recommends sitting 20-26 inches away from your monitor. The NIH also recommends keeping your monitor at a right angle from sunlight, to reduce glare.


    • Insist on proper lighting: A too-bright work environment can contribute to eyestrain, particularly if you are getting a lot of glare from your monitor or peripherals.


    • Take regular breaks: Taking regular breaks can help reduce eye strain. What’s important to remember is that your breaks should be “screen free,” no looking at your smartphone or tablet. Try the “20-20-20” rule: Every twenty minutes, look at point twenty feet in front of you for twenty seconds. Use a timer app to signal when it is time to look away.


    • Check air quality: A dry office can lead to dry, irritated eyes. If nothing can be done about air moisture, ask your doctor if lubricating eye drops are a good idea.  Glasses that cover the area around your eyes can also offer protection. If you are sitting under an air vent, ask to be moved to a different workstation.


  • Talk to your eye doctor: An eye exam can reveal whether your discomfort is simple eye strain, a vision problem or a more serious eye condition. If you do have a vision problem, prescription eyeglasses can make a huge difference in how you feel at the end of the day.


One thing to be aware of:
While eye strain caused by working with computers is uncomfortable, it’s not actually going to damage your eyesight. Still, comfort is important, particularly if you want to be productive at school or work.

Have you suffered from computer-related eye strain? How did you manage it?