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Lighting and Eye Strain


Let’s face it. Computers are an ever present, integral part of our daily lives. Even in my profession as an optometrist where twenty years ago the only computers in the office were at the front desk or in highly sophisticated testing equipment, I now have a computerized eye chart, computerized patient records, displays in each room to educate or document, one in my pocket to keep me in contact with my front desk and testing equipment galore with digital display screens.

Many of these devices that were once luxuries are everyday necessities now and although we use them for hours everyday, they weren’t necessarily designed with our visual comfort in mind. Below are a few points that can help you to minimize Digital Eye Strain but keep in mind, your local eye care practitioner is well versed in this area and can tailor advice directly to you and your situation.

  • As tempting as it is to have a window to the outside world as a backdrop for your computer screen, the increased glare from outside light will cause untold amounts of visual fatigue.
  • Likewise, having your back to the same window will create a situation where your computer screen will be washed out by the light that hits it and images of the window behind you may be reflected off of your screen right into your eyes.
  • To get an idea of how much reflection you are fighting, turn off your monitor and sit in your usual spot to see what reflections come off of your screen. These are the reflections that will still be there degrading your view when your screen is on.
  • Having your screen set too bright will create a source of glare that you will be fighting all day long. Likewise, having your screen too dim will cause you strain as your try to focus on the text.
  • Having a bright light illuminating your paperwork and switching back and forth from a dim screen to the bright paper will also increase visual discomfort. Best to adjust your screen to mimic the natural lighting in the room so that there is not a required readjustment every time you switch from one brightness to another.
  • If you find that you have to have extra bright light to see your paperwork clearly, schedule a time to see your eye care practitioner as your prescription may need adjusting.
  • If you have a device that supports blue light reduction (such as Apple’s Night Shift) consider turning that feature on in the evening or even throughout the day as this will increase your visual comfort when using your device.
  • For those devices that don’t have blue light filtering, consider incorporating one of the new blue light filtering antireflection coatings into your next pair of glasses. That way, irritating blue light glare from all your digital devices can be minimized.

Computers are useful tools, but learning how they impact your comfort, and learning ways to minimize Digital Eye Strain will keep you less visually distracted as you wade through your boss’ latest email or your secret crush’s last Instagram post.


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