Asthenopia, better known as eyestrain, is a huge problem for the computer user. There is a cause-and-effect relation between eyestrain and undesirable symptoms including fatigue, headache, and neck pain — all stress-inducing conditions.You are not Bruce Wayne. You should not be conducting your day-to-day operations in a room that resembles a bat cave. Having the right amount and the right kind of lighting is of paramount importance. Eliminating glare and other sources of eyestrain will pay dividends in terms of work productivity. The eyes play an important role in matters of stress. When you are tired or feeling irritable, it is usually your eyes that give this away.
Your bedroom or home office should contain enough light to enable you to work effectively. Too much light is as bad as too little light. Whether your primary source of light is natural light or artificial light is immaterial — after all, you may prefer working the owl shift. However, for artificial light, you may find that fluorescent lights are better on your eyes than are incandescent bulbs and last longer to boot.
Glare is the big gorilla in the room when it comes to causes of eyestrain. Be sure to eliminate sources of direct glare, which is light shining directly into your eyes, along with sources of indirect glare, which is light reflecting off a computer screen. Some monitors have anti-glare coating as a design feature, whereas for other monitors, an anti-glare screen may come in handy, provided that screen readability is not sacrificed in the process. Configuring your computer to use a light-colored desktop wallpaper can often quickly remedy the amount of glare.
A close relative of glare is any form of high contrast. This includes everything from the foreground and background colors of the digital documents you read to the color combinations of your furniture. Yet lack of color variety can be a source of eyestrain too. Often there is very little you can do to remedy high contrast or low color variation, though if you do find yourself pulling out the paint kit, consider using light pastel colors for your walls, since occupational psychologists believe these colors have a calming effect.
Few things in the office are more irritating than flickering light bulbs or computer monitors. Replace all such light bulbs immediately, and have your flickering or dim monitor serviced or replaced — though with flickering monitors, sometimes simply increasing the refresh rate is enough to stop the flickering. Have a tech-head friend or relative adjust your brightness and contrast settings appropriately, since there are not any good rules of thumb that cover all monitors out there. While you are at it, consider setting your monitor resolution to 800×600, which is believed to be the best setting for the eyes.
What you are reading should be legible without undue exertion. Small fonts, exotic typefaces, and poorly scanned documents are some of the many hassles that plague the computer user. It is often possible to use an OCR program on poorly scanned documents to extract text and transform it into something more readable.
It is common sense that facing a monitor directly is the way to go. Rather than pull out a ruler to measure twenty inches between your screen and your eyes, just sit as far away from the monitor as possible, with an arm length or so being the minimum. Opinions vary on whether your eyes should be in line with the top of the screen, slightly below the top, or slightly above the top. Do what feels right for you, though most experts (but not all) seem to agree that looking above the horizontal is more tiring to the eyes than looking below the horizontal.
Do not tire out your eyes by focusing on any one thing too long. Take an eye break approximately every twenty minutes for a couple of minutes, and include some looking into the distance. You may find that cupping your palms over your closed eyes for a few moments is very soothing. On the other hand, while you are working, do not arrange your material such that you are continually switching focus between a near and a far object, since this too can tire out your eyes. Get a document holder that can be positioned next to your monitor.
Finally, low humidity leads to dry eyes and, in turn, eyestrain. So do air currents.
Look out for your eyes and they will keep looking out for you — literally.