Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A few simple adjustments in how you read, work or use the computer can give your eyes a much-needed rest. Consider these simple tips to reduce eyestrain.

  • When doing close-up work, make sure you have light that's well directed on what you're doing. Use a brighter light source if you need one, especially if you have reduced vision.
  • When reading printed materials, try to position the light source behind you and direct the light onto your page. If you're reading at a desk, use a shaded light positioned in front of you. The shade will keep light from shining directly into your eyes.
  • When watching television, keeping the room softly lit may be more comfortable than having a high contrast between the TV screen and the surrounding environment.

Tips for computer work

Computer use is a common cause of eyestrain. If you work at a desk and use a computer, take some of the strain off your eyes by making sure your work space is set up in an appropriate and eye-friendly way.

  • Adjust your position. Position your monitor directly in front of you 20 to 40 inches (about 50 to 100 centimeters) from your eyes. If you need to get close to read small type, consider increasing the font size. Keep the top of your screen at eye level or below so that you look down slightly at your work. If you wear bifocals, you may have a tendency to tilt your head backward so that you can see through the lower portion of your glasses. To adjust for this, consider lowering your monitor a few inches or buying glasses designed for computer work.
  • Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright lighting and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see objects on your screen. To check glare, sit at your computer with the monitor off. This allows you to see the reflected light and images. Note any intense glare. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.
  • Adjust your monitor. If possible, place your monitor so that the brightest light sources are off to the side, at a right angle to your monitor. Consider turning off some or all of the overhead lights. If you need light for writing or reading, use an adjustable desk lamp. Close blinds and shades and avoid placing your monitor directly in front of a window or white wall. Use a glare-reducing screen to minimize glare from overhead lighting. Finally, adjust the contrast and brightness on the monitor to a level that's comfortable for you, making sure the letters on the screen are easy to read.
  • Keep your monitor clean. Wipe the dust from your computer screen regularly. Dust on the screen lowers contrast and may contribute to glare and reflection problems.
  • Position your keyboard properly. Place your keyboard directly in front of you. If you place the keyboard too high, too low or at an angle, it may cause discomfort and fatigue in your eyes, wrists and hands.
  • Keep reference materials nearby. Place reading and reference material on a document holder beside your monitor and at the same level, angle and distance from your eyes as the monitor is from your eyes. This reduces how much your eyes need to readjust and how often you need to turn your neck and head.
Sept. 19, 2012