Eye Strain from Computers

Office workers have their share of work-related hazards. People who use video display terminals (VDTs) may often complain of eyestrain, pain, stiffness in their backs and shoulders, and stress. These complaints can be a result of:

  • Using a VDT for long time periods.
  • Improper positioning of the VDT.
  • Poor lighting.
  • Poor posture.
  • Tight deadlines.

VDT users can protect themselves from the physical problems that go with using them with the Self-Care Tips listed in the next column.

Self-Care Tips

To prevent eyestrain:

  • Reduce glare. Keep the VDT away from you and at right angles to a window. Turn off or shield overhead lights. Wear a visor to block overhead lights if necessary.
  • Place your paperwork close enough that you don’t have to keep refocusing when switching from the screen to the paper. Use a paper document holder placed at the same height as the VDT screen.
  • Place the screen so that your line of sight is 10 to 15 degrees (about one-third of a 45-degree angle) below horizontal.
  • Dust off the screen often.
  • Blink often to keep your eyes from getting dry. Use “artificial tear” eye drops if needed.
  • Tell your eye specialist that you use a VDT. Glasses and contacts worn for other activities may not be good for work on a VDT. (With bifocals, the near vision part of the lens is good for looking down, as when you read, but not straight ahead, as you do when looking at a video display screen. So you may need single-vision lenses for VDT work).
  • If the image on the VDT screen is blurred, dull, or flickers, have it serviced right away.
  • Try to keep the VDT screen two feet away from your eyes.

To prevent muscle tension when you work on a VDT:

  • Use a chair that supports your back and can be easily adjusted to a height that feels right for you.
  • Take a 15 minute break if you can, for every 2 hours you use a VDT. Get up and go for a short walk for example.
  • Do stretching exercises of the neck, shoulder, and lower back every 1 to 2 hours.

    • Rotate your head in a circular motion, first clockwise, then counterclockwise.
    • Shrug your shoulders up, down, backward, and forward.
    • While standing or sitting, bend at the waist, leaning first to the left, then to the right.

Questions to Ask

Do you still have eye strain, pain and stiffness in back and shoulders despite using Self-Care Tips provided?

Yes: Call Doctor


Provide Self-Care

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Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021