Many people who use computers or tablets complain of eye strain. Looking at a monitor for a long time can strain your eyes or can make any other problems you are having with your eyes seem far more noticeable.

Specsavers Edgware Road store director Seema Patel has some advice on preventing computer eye strain.

Have an eye test

Regular eye examinations are essential for clear, comfortable vision. But they also offer a broader health assessment – the optometrist checks the health of your eyes and looks for signs of other medical conditions. The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 stipulate that employees using Visual Display Units (VDUs or computer monitors) should be provided with an eye examination, funded by their employer, when requested. When you have your test, let the optometrist know you use computers often.

Rest your eyes

Regularly look away from your computer screen and focus on distant objects. For example, take a minute to stare out of the window. Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye, which in turn reduces eye fatigue.

Take frequent breaks from your computer

It is important to take a step away from your computer screen now and then. For example, take a break from your computer by getting up to make a drink. In fact, the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 requires VDU users to have breaks or changes of activity, but do not specify how often or for how long. However, short, frequent breaks are more satisfactory than occasional, longer breaks.

Use adequate lighting

Eye strain is often caused by excessive sunlight coming in through the window or by bright room lighting. Use curtains or blinds to reduce the brightness of the sun, reduce the lighting in your room and avoid sitting under big overhead fluorescent lights. If possible, use floor lamps instead.

Reduce glare

Glare reflected from light-coloured painted walls and shiny surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen, can cause eye strain. An anti-glare screen attached to your monitor can help and is a less drastic measure than painting the walls in a darker, matt-finish paint. Reducing the external light by covering windows or using a computer hood over the monitor might help.

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