Eye-strain from staring at a computer screen is a common problem for many writers, freelancers, college students, and anyone who needs to use the computer a lot.
Your eyes connect you to the computer screen when you type, an important connection to be sure. However, if you’re not careful, staring at the computer screen with poor technique can lead to eye-strain and decreased energy — both mean you get less writing done and make less money. And you use your eyes for other, less important things, like watching where you’re going and gazing at sunsets.
What to do? Glad you asked.
If you are a freelance writer or a member of any one of a multitude of professions, you likely spend several hours per day looking at the computer screen. If you don’t position it correctly and take proper precautions, you can cause significant eyestrain. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Place the monitor directly in front of you so you don’t need to turn your head to view it.
2. Adjust your monitor so that the top is directly in front of your eyes and at a distance of 18-24 inches.
Your Eyes: The Specifics
To maintain the health of your eyes:
1. Look away from the screen every few minutes; examine objects at different distances, including far away.
2. Optimize screen brightness and contrast.
3. Minimize screen glare.
If you use a laptop, like I do whenever I’m writing away from home, keep the top of the screen at eye level, or as high as practical.
I do when I’m outside the house. And until recently I never wore prescription reading glasses at all. I actually got a pair a couple of years ago, but I thought I really didn’t need them.
Well, just a few months ago I tried them for computer work. What a difference: eye-strain way down, ability to concentrate way up, ability to work better way up.
My partner Stephanie picked the style: horizontal narrow. At first I didn’t like them because I had less glass to look through. Now I appreciate how easy it is to look above the rim at the bird feeder 5 feet in front of me out my office window, and at the deer and jackrabbits and pine and juniper farther in the distance.
Lesson: if you don’t have perfect vision, visit a qualified professional to have your eyes checked out. If that pro recommends reading glasses, get ‘em. Just be sure you have them set up for the average distance your eyes are from your computer screen.
Here are several excellent links with tips on writer ergonomics. Most also discuss what to do with your eyes.
How Do You See It?
What do you minimize eye-strain? Any tips for eye health and function?