Screen Presence – The Effect of Computing on the Eyes

Everywhere you look there are computers, from the more obvious office places to the less likely manufacturing shop floor. Meaning that nearly everyone spend some time looking at a screen at some time, even if it is just for a few minutes to get some money out of the ‘hole in the wall’

For those who spend significant amounts of time with a screen in front of them it is worth remembering that the human eye was not designed to spend long periods of time focussing on brightly lit, stationary objects. So we have to be sensible about how we interact with the computer.

The main eye type complaints from computer users are headaches, dry eyes, fatigue and loss of clear focus after prolonged sessions in front of the screen. This is why the advice is always to take regular breaks, perhaps every 20 minutes.

Taking time to do some regular ‘normal’ blinking should ease the dry eye sensation, we should normally blink about every 8 to 10 seconds, but when concentrating on the screen that can drop to every 25 to 30 seconds, the tear film cannot remain stable for that length of time and so the eye surface becomes dry. Resorting to moisturising drops can be good idea.

Getting the screen into the correct position is very important, about 60cm away and at eye level is the best advice, with no strong lights in the eye line of the viewer or reflecting off the screen. The screen brightness should be reasonably low, and a font size that does not need to be squinted at, and keep the screen clean.

Many headaches can also come from the lack of body movement while at your desk, meaning the body’s blood circulation is less efficient due to the lack of muscle movement in the body. It’s good to get up and have a stretch and a walk.

Finally, get yours eyes tested regularly to make sure your eye’s health and focus are up to the demands of the screen work.