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Front Page » May 5, 2009 » Tech Tips » Ten simple ways to alleviate computer related eye discomfort
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Ten simple ways to alleviate computer related eye discomfort

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Sun Advocate/Emery County Progress

It's no secret that computer screens are not easy on the eyes. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time using a computer knows this. In fact, many people end up visiting their eye doctor because of pain or discomfort caused from spending too much time in front of a computer screen.

While nothing beats a visit to the eye doctor, there are some things you can do that can help alleviate or reduce some of the discomfort.

1. Reduce glare on the computer screen. There are a number of different ways to do this. First, reducing the light that shines onto the screen can greatly diminish glare. If that doesn't help, an anti-glare screen cover might also help. Some people have reported mixed results with them, but if nothing else is helping, it might be worth a try.

2. Adjust the viewing angle. Changing the tilt, or viewing angle of the screen can not only help make the screen easier to see, but can also help reduce harmful glare.

3. Blink more often. Some studies show that people blink up to five times less than normal when staring at a computer screen. As silly as it sounds, consciously blinking more often helps moisten the eyes and keeps them from drying out, which helps prevent dryness and irritation.

4. Take short, frequent breaks. Taking periodic "mini-breaks" away from the computer help your eyes better cope with the additional eye strain imposed by staring at the screen. Some studies seem to indicate that shorter, more frequent breaks are more effective than longer, less frequent breaks.

5. Don't underestimate ergonomics. Using proper posture while sitting at your computer desk can make a world of difference on eye comfort. Thighs should be level while sitting and feet should be flat on the floor. The screen should be positioned just slightly under eye level.

6. Clean your screen often. It may sound insignificant, but a dirty screen can cause a great deal of eye strain. A monitor's screen should be cleaned frequently and performed properly. Older CRT monitors with glass surfaces can usually be cleaned with a mild glass cleaner.

LCDs, on the other hand, must be cleaned with special alcohol-free solvents and scratch-free fabrics to avoid damaging the screen's soft and delicate surface.

7. Check your monitor's refresh rate. Older CRT monitors are often mis-configured to use a low refresh rate, which can cause severe eye strain and major discomfort. Refresh rate determines how many times the screen is re-drawn every second, and is usually measured in hertz (Hz). Acceptable refresh rates are 85 Hz or higher.

If you don't know how to check what refresh rate your computer is using, please contact a computer professional who can check the settings for you. Using the wrong refresh rate can severely damage the monitor itself.

8. Upgrade your monitor. If you currently own a monitor that is more than several years old, it may benefit you to purchase a newer monitor that is easier on the eyes.

Newer CRT monitors support higher refresh rates than their predecessors, and often have flatter screen surfaces, which decreases the chances for glare.

LCD monitors are even better on the eyes than their old CRT counterparts and don't require an extremely high refresh rate.

While LCDs are expensive, they are highly recommended for people who spend more than a few hours each day using a computer.

9. Decrease brightness and adjust contrast. Although LCDs may be easier on the eyes, they can still cause eye strain. Many of them ship from the factory with an extremely high brightness setting, which can cause eye strain, burning and other eye irritation. Decreasing the brightness and adjusting contrast levels can substantially decrease eye irritation.

10. Your monitor may be defective. If other options have been exhausted, and eye discomfort continues, it may be the fault of the monitor, which may be in the process of failing. A good computer technican can tell you whether or not your monitor needs to be replaced.

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