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Watch That Screen How to protect your eyes from computer screens

Are you spending hours looking at a computer screen? Chances are that you will need reading glasses by the time you are forty.

Staring at the screen for hours on end, day in day out, your eyes are forced to lock the focus to that short distance between you and your screen. It is not without repercussions: you get tired and irritable. The often arid, airconditioned office environment and flickering neon lights only make it worse. As a result, chronic eye dryness is increasingly affecting 10-30% of the population in Hungary.

Dry air is a contributing factor but computer screens are truly the main culprit in eye dryness. Normally you would blink 22 times a minute. When reading a book or newspaper, your blink rate is down to a modest 10. Watching the screen, you barely blink 7-8 times a minute, leaving your eyes high and dry, as blinking is crucial in maintaining the fine mucous layer that covers and protects your eyeballs.

Blinking – or rather not blinking – aside, your eyes actually struggle to make sense of the computer screen. While printed letters are solid and contiguous, even the smoothest font on your screen is made up of coloured dots with less contrast, which makes them ever so nebulous. Your brain is working hard to decode the information, and so do your eyes, constantly adjusting the fine focus back and forth, trying to sharpen the slightly fuzzy image. It is an unfair workload for the delicate ciliary muscles inside your eyes.

Good to know

• The screen is normally further away from your eyes than the standard reading distance, therefore you need lower diopter glasses for computer work than your prescription reading glasses. Even if you can do without reading glasses just yet, it is advisable to wear a pair of 0 diopter antiglare glasses.
• Contact lenses make your eyes prone to drying in the first place so you need extra care when working on a computer.
• Ideally position your screen right in front of you at 50-70 cm from your eyes, depending on the screen size. The centre of the screen should be 10-20 cm below your eyeline to facilitate a relaxed, slightly downward stare.
• It is best to have an even, diffuse ambient light in the room, slightly dimmer than your computer screen, with complementary local lights such as a desklamp illuminating the work surface or keyboard. Avoid direct, bare light sources and glare.
• Diffuse natural light from sideways is always the best ambient light for your work environment.

Rolling your eyes? Gymnastics!

Hard as it is when concentrating on your work, try to remind yourself not to forget to blink! It is a simple trick that does miracles to avoid eye fatigue. Failing that you might want to regularly apply lubricant eye drops, commonly called artificial tears, while at work. Refresh your vision and prevent stiffness and fatigue by taking a short break and rolling your eyes around every half hour, exercising your extraocular muscles. Dr. Ágnes Farkas, ophthalmologist at Dr. Rose Private Hospital, stresses that the fine ciliary muscles inside your eyeball that do the focusing also need regular exercise. “Doing rapid shifts of focus repeatedly should be your daily routine,” she suggests. “Look closely at your fingernails, then look up into the distance through the window for example. You also need to nourish your eyes. Blood circulation readily improves with a cold eyewash.” So simple, so effective.

Having problems with your eyesight recently? Book a consultation with our ophthalmologist online or call us on +36 1 377 67 37 for an appointment.