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Battling Eyestrain and Headaches? Here Are 5 Tricks to Keep Your Peepers Tip-Top

Like most people, I diligently work on a computer all day, happily typing away hour after hour. Also, like most people, at the end of the day I feel eyestrain accompanied by a monster headache. I always assumed it was due to staring at the computer all day, so I finally broke down and looked up tips to soothe my throbbing head and sore eyes.

As I searched through news articles and medical websites, I ran across an article that correlated prolonged computer use with blindness. Naturally, this freaked me out and my mind raced with terrible thoughts. Would I have to change jobs? How would I live without my sight? When would it happen, today or fifty years from now?

Headaches are only one of the pains caused by eyestrain.

Headaches are only one of the pains caused by eyestrain.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you that the article I saw was blown way out of proportion; blindness from looking at a computer screen is not really a major threat to worry about. Thankfully, experts confirm that we will not go blind from using a computer every day! However, some do confirm that there are a slew of minor, but every annoying, eye problems linked to starring at a monitor all day. Here are a few side effects of eyestrain that you may experience on a daily basis:

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Neck and back aches
  • Eyelid twitching
  • Eye pain
  • Dizziness

Never fear, though. To keep your eyes in check just follow these simple but valuable tricks:

  1. Use the 20/20/20 rule: Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes and look at a something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  2. Position your monitor between 10-15 degrees below eye level and keep 20-28 inches in between.
  3. Ceiling lights should be about half as bright or you should use a floor/desk lamp (for an indirect light source) while using the computer.
  4. Exercise your eyes (look up and down, then side to side for 10 seconds every half hour) and blink more throughout the day. Studies show we blink five times less while using the computer.
  5. See your eye doctor at least once each year. Doctors will not only check the health of your eyes, but they can also detect other life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

There you have it! No matter if you’re in the office or working at home, following these tips and making them part of your routine will ease eyestrain and make life at the computer a little less agonizing. There’s no shame in taking a few seconds to rest your eyes every now and then.

How many hours a day do you work in front of a computer? Do you use any of these tips already? Are there any other eye relief suggestions I didn’t mention?


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  1. Rachel

    Great tips, Jen! I often forget to rest my eyes while working on the computer, and I definitely get eye strain and headaches after work sometimes. It doesn’t help that I spend a lot of time at home on the computer, too. πŸ™‚ I often find it helpful to zoom in on websites and computer programs with tiny print so that I’m not straining as much to read. Having decorations on my cubicle wall also gives me something else to focus my eyes on if I need to look at something besides a bright screen. I’ll have to try that 20/20/20 rule next!

    • Jen

      OMG yeah, when I go home I often stare at the computer again all night!

      Great idea with the small print, making it bigger would really help the peepers. πŸ™‚

      • Amanda

        Looking away for a few seconds here and there really does help! I find myself blinking a lot on purpose too–that helps some. Great tips Jen!

        • BBritz

          Definitely agree with you Amanda, looking away for a few seconds or even getting up and walking around really does help. Also, I always find myself blinking a lot. Great blog Jen, these tips will definitely help!

  2. Doc

    Wow, Jen! I was reading those side effects and nodding at each one. I find myself having to splash water on my face halfway through the day to “reset” my eyes in an attempt to eliminate those exact issues. I like the idea of dimming the lighting in the office. I’m going to try that today. Thanks for the tips!

    • Jen

      I’m glad this was helpful for you! I use a few of these techniques every day, and it has made huge improvements.

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    Like Rachel, I’ve found that even just taking a few seconds to glance at my cubicle decorations helps the eyestrain. I’ll also sometimes skip emailing questions and just ask them to people directly. Not only do I get to stretch my legs, but it takes my eyes off the computer for a while.

    • Jen

      Walking away from the computer makes a world of difference!

      • Amanda

        Walking around really does help! We’ve all got to get up and stretch throughout the day. I like having pictures of nature/outside things in my cube–that helps my mind and eyes take a break once in a while too! =)

  4. amy

    If I were reading that initial article that you read about going blind, I’d be just as freaked out. Yikes!! Great tips, I like how that 20/20/20 rule is nice and easy to remember πŸ™‚

    P.s How come Micheal Scott didn’t cover eye strain in his safety in the workplace meeting??

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      They did. Toby covered it in his “boring” office safety lecture.

      • amy

        Well that’s why I can’t remember it, Toby gave that lecture πŸ˜‰

  5. JPorretto

    I think I have super powered peepers. Other than a little eye twitch maybe once or twice a year, I’ve had no side effects. And I look at a screen from dawn to dusk. Of course I keep my screens as dim as readable. Maybe that has something to do with it. Did you read anything about that?

    • Jen

      Lucky! But,yes, it said if you have a bright room (due to the sun or something like that) to turn the monitor brightness down and that would help significantly also.

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    I’ll admit, you had me worried there during that second paragraph when you mentioned how prolonged computer use can result in blindness. If that were really the case, I’d pretty much have to kiss my eyesight goodbye. I stare at a monitor both at work AND at home for hours on end almost every day.

    Very thoughtful tips here, Jen! I tend to suffer from a number of the side effects you listed, so I’ll be sure to at least keep the “20/20/20” rule in mind from now on. Sounds easy enough, I suppose. πŸ™‚

    • Jen

      It is easy to use, and most of us use it without even realizing it.

  7. Kyle

    This was a great read and I totally agree with Jeff’s comment regarding screen brightness.

    I actually had a conversation with a friend about this issue a few weeks ago. He recently purchased a TV, but complained of eye fatigue after watching for extended periods. I’m sure many of you already know this, but TV’s are often set to a ridiculously high brightness setting from the factory to showcase the “best” picture (aka the most eyeball meltingest). Sure it looks great in a store with all of the overhead lighting, but it doesn’t make for an enjoyable viewing experience at home, especially at night.

    Anyways, he turned down the brightness and the next day said that did the trick. No doubt I agree with the rest of your tips, but just personal preference I find adjusting a display’s brightness to be really helpful if you find yourself staring at a screen for long stretches of time.

    Oh, and that 20/20/20 rule sounds great because I often find my eyes glued to the screen without even noticing that I’m straining my eyes and/or not blinking. Now if only I could remember that rule during those exact times! πŸ˜›

    • Jen

      I agree with you and Jeff! I turned the brightness of my monitor down and I haven’t had any headaches lately. The 20/20/20 rule is great, but you’re right, it is so hard to remember to look away from the screen, especially if you’re really concentrating on something. I think if you do it every hour or so along with low lighting and blinking more, it would still do the trick. πŸ™‚

  8. Jill Tooley

    According to your tips, I’m doing a lot of things correctly. I have a desk/floor lamp instead of the overhead lights, I try to rest my eyes whenever possible, and I make a point to blink as an eye refresher. It’s weird because you would think that overhead lighting and brighter monitors would actually be easier on the eyes!

    Too bad all computer screens can’t be as awesome as the Kindle’s (it’s not backlit, so eyestrain is less of an issue). Maybe someday…

  9. Lauren

    I need to start practicing this…. Sitting at a comp. all day def. takes a strain on your eyes. 20/20/20 starts today!

  10. Avery

    i have head for 1month i always using my computer everyday is fine or should i call a dorctor

  11. Randy J Semroska

    I work in an office that has installed ultra bright led lighting so we have severe eye strain from the bright lights then we get a special gift they installed heat sensing motion sensors and these turn the lights off after 5 minutes. So you are in the dark till an individual walks by to trip the sensor then bam you are under the brightest lights I have ever seen. Then another 5 minutes you go into the dark and can’t see. This cycle repeats itself 10 to 15 times every day.

  12. AnnaLisa Scott

    I get horrible headaches across my eyebrow area every night after typing all day…I am a blogger..and it is to the point where I get sick to my stomach. I had a bad flare up like this a few years ago and it went away after a few months and now it is back. I hate it. Thanks for the advice.

  13. Harvey Lee

    Thank you so much for these tips! I spend so much time at my computer, I just have to find a way to reduce the pain associated with it! I’m going to try out these tips – thank you!

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