Eye Health: Staring At A Computer Can Hurt Your Eyes; How To Prevent Work-Related Eyestrain

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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by John L. Miller, software engineer/architect. 

It's common-sense to say that working at a computer damages your eyes, but it's not necessarily correct. A lot of these concerns have been debunked over time. A very real concern, however, is the impact on your BODY of sitting still for so much of the day. You didn't ask, so I won't go into that.

We change our behavior when using a computer. The Mayo Clinic has an article on eyestrain from computer use. It indicates the eyestrain itself isn't dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable (e.g. your eyes get dry).

To address discomfort, mitigate the causes.

  • If air conditioning (AC) is blowing directly on your face and drying out your eyes, redirect the AC or find a position where this no longer happens..
  • If your eyes get sore, take a break from the computer. Get a drink, walk around, etc. It'll be good for the rest of your body, too.
  • Minimize glare on your screen and other factors that make it harder to see what you're working on. Avoid direct sunlight on your screen or on things which reflect on your screen, such as your shirt.

In summary - don't worry about saving your eyes, their health shouldn't be dramatically affected by working at the computer. Instead, worry about mitigating the effects of poor posture and sedentary work habits, and of any discomfort your eyes have while working.

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