Tips for constant computer users: how to prevent eye strain

If you use a computer (or laptop, IPad or any screen) for long hours your eyes are  working overtime. Here’s how to make sure you are not over-straining your eyes when working on screens, so they stay healthy.


You may have heard of the 20-20-20 rule, as it’s pretty well known:

  • Every 20 minutes, look away from the computer screen. Use a stopwatch or alarm clock to remind you.
  • Look at something at least 20 feet away. (20 feet = 6-7 metres.) e.g. You could look out a window at a tree branch, or the roof of a building in your street.
  • Look at the object for 20 seconds. Then you can go back to work, for another 20 minutes.

Using this rule helps prevent eye strain.

If you can’t or won’t use this rule, then make sure you go for a brief walk outside (or gaze through the window at the trees or rooves outside) for five to ten minutes once every hour, to give your eyes – not to mention your body – a break from that computer screen.

Eye level and line of sight

Where your eyes are situated in relation to the screen on which they are focused is important, in making sure you don’t either strain your eyes or injure your neck or back.

Don’t sit in a position where you are looking upwards or downwards at the screen as this will strain your body or eyes.

Make sure the screen is directly in front of your eyes so your gaze is horizontal. You can raise or lower your chair, or place the computer screen on something to raise it higher, to achieve this.

A well-lit room (and soft-lit screen)

Your workplace needs to be bright enough that you can easily see what you need to (e.g. computer screen, documentation, whiteboard). But if the lighting is too bright or harsh it may give you eye strain.

Some types of lighting (for example, white fluorescent lights) can produce eye strain. Make sure the lighting in the room is easy on the eyes. And if you are working in a dark area of a room, place a lamp nearby to improve the lighting.

The lighting of your computer screen needs to be adjusted to the best level of brightness for your eyes. Here are some tips:

  • A soft-lit screen is easier on your eyes. A glaring white or bright screen can  strain your eyes. Dim the screen so it is off-white and easy on the eyes.
  • You can adjust your screen to a pastel colour instead of white.
  • If you wear glasses, if you pay a bit extra you can buy glasses with anti-glare lenses. They reduce the glare from a computer screen.

What if you get headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of eye strain.

Headaches can be caused by many things, including eye strain.

If you use screens a lot and get headaches, your eyes could be telling you that you need glasses. We recommend you get your eyes checked.

More tips for computer users

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