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5 Ways to Prevent Computer Eyestrain

5 Ways to Prevent Computer Eyestrain

If you love the convenience of online shopping, banking and socializing, there's a good chance you're spending a lot of hours staring at a flickering computer screen. Because so many people do, there's an official name for the eyestrain that can result: computer vision syndrome (CVS). Do any of these sound familiar: dry, burning eyes; aching back, neck, shoulders or head; blurry vision?

Here's how to take eye protection into your own hands to fend off CVS:

  • Look down, not up. Tilt your screen slightly downward so its center is about 4 to 8 inches below eye level. Otherwise, you'll have to put a masseuse on full-time retainer. (Hmmm, not a bad idea.)
  • Take a break. Every 15 minutes, look from side to side. Then, gaze into the distance. Do some shoulder rolls as you look around, so you get a nice neck stretch, too.
  • Stand up. Take a 10-minute bathroom break at least every 2 hours, even if you don't have to go. Walk there, back or anywhere, letting your eyes idle. Make phone calls on your cell (use a wireless or corded headset) and walk as you talk, letting your eyes wander. Do anything that doesn't involve intense focusing.
  • Use eye drops. You blink less when you're staring at a screen. Result: dry eyes. Squeeze in preservative-free artificial tears as needed.
  • Check your glasses. Driving glasses may keep you from plowing into the car ahead of you, and magnifiers let you read menus, but neither may help you see (correctly) computer type that's 20 to 26 inches away. Ask an optometrist about computer glasses.
  • Hit the hay. Your retinal membranes are just like the rest of your body; they need sleep to revive. (Watch this video to see how to fix sleep-deprived eyes.)

Wondering about your eyes? Ask your doctor these top eye-health questions.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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