The world revolves around computers nowadays, which means more and more jobs involve sitting in front of a screen. We’ve already covered how this can be bad for your heart health, due to the amount of time you spend sitting down. However, it can also deal a surprising amount of damage to your eyes.

While you’re not likely to go fully blind from working at a computer, you might be surprised at how bad it is for your eyes. You might already be experiencing this in some way; it could be as simple as regular headaches, or you might be having problems with your vision, like seeing spots.

If you want to avoid developing eye strain from your screen, the obvious way to do so is to avoid spending too much time with your computer. However, this isn’t an option for many people, as it’s a major part of their jobs. So what can you do to prevent your eyes from accumulating damage from your screen?


Beware the glare

Part of the reason sitting at a computer hurts your eyes is because of the bright light that comes off the screen. You can reduce the brightness using your monitor settings so that you’re not staring at anything too glaring, but you might still be suffering due to other light sources reflecting off the screen.

The most common of these is the sun, but if you work somewhere with particularly bright lighting then you might have a problem with glare from these as well. Not only does this reflected light make it harder to see your screen, it also damages your eyes while you use your computer.

The solution is simple: move your screen so there are no lights shining on it. This can be easier said than done, as you might need to move your monitor several times throughout the day as the position of the sun changes. You can also buy anti-glare glasses that reduce the effects of light reflecting into your eyes.


Use the 20-20-20 rule

One important factor in protecting your eyes is to take a break from the screen every so often. But what constitutes a break for your eyes, how often should you take one, and for how long? One easy way to remember all this is to use the 20-20-20 rule, which is recommended by the American Optometric Association.

The rule is that every 20 minutes, you should look at something around 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to refocus for a bit, which gives them a little rest from looking at the same object for hours at a time.

The other thing you should do is, for every two hours you spend at the computer, take 15 minutes where you just rest your eyes. This means you can’t just switch from your monitor to looking at your phone; you need to be looking around or having your eyes closed, so they don’t have to work at looking at a bright screen.


Position yourself correctly

The position in which you sit can have a surprising effect on your eyes if you’re using a computer. For example, looking upwards at your screen can cause excess strain, and also potentially lead to headaches and even migraines due to the position of your eyes in the skull. Looking downward at it, however, is thought to be much better for you.

Ideally, you should be looking downwards at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. If you don’t fancy getting a protractor out, there’s an easy way to work this out; if the screen is between 20 and 30 inches from your eyes, the centre of it should be four to five inches below your eyeline.

By the way, 20 to 30 inches is the recommended distance you should be from your screen while you’re using it. Sitting too close increases the glare and leads to even more damage, so keeping yourself at arm’s length is a good idea.