1. Home

Preventing Eye Strain

How to Prevent Eye Strain


Eye strain can severely diminish the quality of your life. It can also be difficult to diagnose eye strain. Treating it is not that difficult but the best way to treat eye strain is to prevent it in the first place.

Remove or Reduce the Cause

The causes of eye strain are many and varied. If you are able to pinpoint a specific cause of your eye strain the easiest way to prevent it is to remove or reduce that task from your schedule. Usually you can not (because it is your job) or you do not want to (because it is your hobby). If that is the case there are other preventative measures you can take.

Correct Bad Habits

Sometimes a specific task causes eye strain because of the way you do it. Breaking these bad habits and creating good habits in their place can help. Ensure you have the proper ergonomic setup, technique and equipment for the visual aspect of your task.

Eliminate Glare

If you have an urge to squint when you look at something, then there is way too much glare. Eliminating or reducing glare will go a long way to preventing eye strain.

Reduce Contrast

Contrast is often overlooked as a major contributor to eye strain. But the relative brightness of one item next to another puts a lot of strain on the eyes. By reducing contrast and giving your work site relatively even brightness levels your eyes will not have to work as hard.

Strengthen the Eyes

Strong, healthy eyes with strong, healthy eye muscles (like all muscles) can handle a lot more stress before they become strained. Eye strengthening exercises can give you greater stamina for your viewing pleasure.

Wear the Proper Corrective Lenses

Make sure your eye glass prescription is up to date. If you do not wear glasses, maybe you should. It could be as simple as needing reading glasses, especially if you are over 40 and experiencing recurring eye strain for the first time.

Use Adequate Lighting

Make sure you have adequate lighting levels for the task you are performing. But do not go overboard. To bright of a light can cause eye strain as well.

Especially if you are focusing on a light emitting source like a TV or computer monitor. As a general rule ambient lighting for screen use should be between 50-100% of the screens brightness. For task work you want enough light to see the details you need without squinting. You also want to place light sources so there are no shadows.

Give Your Eyes a Break

Follow the 20-20 rule. For every twenty minutes of concentrated close-up work take a twenty second break by looking at something twenty feet away. This allows the ciliary body to relax. You should also soothe your eyes every hour.

Keep Things at a Distance

The eyes have to work harder the closer they have to focus. Give them a break by keeping that focus as far away as possible.

For computer use ensure you follow good ergonomic computer monitor setup guidelines. For tasks that require you to hold things in your hand keep them at the greatest arms length possible without interfering with your balance and/or strength. In other words don’t knit up close or bend down to the counter when slicing that tomato.

Have Variety in Viewing Distances

No matter what the distance of your focus is it is a good idea to vary it over time. Try to set up your task so you periodically switch the depth of your focus. The change in depth needs to be significant, at least a couple of feet.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.