Computer Eye Strain

Screens and Computer Eye Strain

Video display terminals (VDTs) are a fact of life in today's workplace, but that doesn't mean headaches, tired eyes, blurred vision and eye strain have to be the trade-off. In fact, "computer vision syndrome," caused by the stress that prolonged computer work puts on the eyes, can be prevented or eliminated in most cases.

Working on the computer monitor screen is different than viewing a typewritten or printed page. Letters on a monitor are not as precise, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and often there are reflections or glare on the screen. These characteristics, combined with viewing distances and angles, which differ from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks, place additional demands on the visual system.


To make the work environment easier on your eyes, the Pennsylvania Optometric Association recommends the following tips:

  • Make sure you don't have an undetected vision condition. Even minor uncorrected vision problems can aggravate eye strain and fatigue. Regular eye examinations help maintain eye health and keep vision functioning at top efficiency.
  • Report your job tasks, on-the-job seeing distances and any discomfort you may be experiencing to your optometrist, even if you don't normally wear glasses.
  • Eyeglasses and contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Eyeglasses designed specifically for computer work may help maximize visual abilities and comfort.
  • Take alternative task breaks throughout the day to relieve the stress associated with computer work. Make phone calls, use other office equipment, confer with colleagues, or simply take a walk through your office to give your eyes a needed break. Prolonged concentration on a computer screen, like other near-task work, can cause eyestrain and may contribute to the development of nearsightedness.
  • Adjust the brightness of the monitor to an intensity that is comfortable for your eyes.
  • Next, adjust the contrast between the characters and the background on the monitor until the letters are easy to read. Repeat this process until you reach the highest comfort level for your eyes.
  • Use shades, drapes or blinds to reduce glare from windows and eliminate bright light sources from your peripheral vision. Placing your monitor perpendicular to windows or other bright light sources will also help to reduce glare.
  • Minimize glare further by placing a glare reduction filter on your computer screen. Look for filters that have received the American Optometric Association Seal of Acceptance (ask your optometrist or check local business supply stores). Keeping your screen clean will also reduce glare.
  • Use an adjustable chair that allows you to sit at a comfortable height, angle and distance from the computer screen. If possible, choose a computer that has a detachable keyboard, a screen that tilts and swivels and controls for contrast and brightness.
  • Place reference material on an adjustable holder close to and at the same viewing distance as your screen. Frequent focusing changes may cause you to feel tired.

Article Courtesy of: Pennsylvania Optometric Association