Computers and your eyes

What is eye strain and why does it happen?

Some people working at computers for long periods of time can suffer from eye strain experiencing eye fatigue, difficulty focusing and headaches.

One of the reasons this can occur as your eyes need to work harder to focus on a computer screen for prolonged periods meaning your eye muscles need to constantly adjust to ensure the content on the screen stays in focus- this take a lot of work! Other reasons include screen glare glare, inadequate room lighting, poor workstation set up, dry eyes or a change in your vision.

What can I do to prevent eye strain?

Make sure your workstation is set up correctly:

  • Place your screen at a comfortable viewing distance and height
  • Use a copy holder close to your screen so you don’t have to keep swivelling your head and changing your eye focus constantly
  • Eliminate or minimise glare on your screen
  • Ensure the lighting is suitable in the room
  • Sit well supported in an adjustable chair
  • Keep your workstation clean to minimise dust

Relaxation exercises for your eyes

  • To start with, sit comfortably with your head straight and your shoulders relaxed
  • Look up to the centre of your forehead, then down to the tip of your nose. Repeat slowly four times
  • Look as far as you can to the left, then as far as you can to the right. Repeat
  • Keeping your head straight and shoulders relaxed, look up to the foremost left-hand corner, then move your eyes across and down to the bottom right, move them up to the top right-hand corner then across and down to the bottom left. Finish by moving them back up to the top left. Repeat
  • Starting with your eyes at the top left corner, look down slowly to your bottom left, across to the bottom right, up to the top right and then across to the top left again. Repeat the other way
  • Finally, to cool down, squeeze eyes tight and blink several times. Relax by placing your palms over your whole eye area and breathing out slowly
Useful links
Ways to reduce eye strain:
  • Frequent breaks away from the computer
  • Changing your focus by regular long distance viewing
  • Keep up your fluid intake
  • Remember to blink!
  • Artificial Tears can be helpful
  • Wear glasses if prescribed
  • Consider an eye examination
  • Sleeping well

The information provided is general health information and is not intended to replace advice or care from your medical advisor.