10 Quick Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD

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How many hours do you use your computer at work and at home? If you find that you’re staring at screens more than six hours a day, it’s important to be aware of computer eye strain and the ways you can both avoid and relieve it.

Common symptoms of computer eye strain include:

  • Tired eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Frequent headaches
  • Red, itchy, dry or watery eyes
  • Soreness in your neck, back or shoulders

You might already be familiar with some, if not all, of these symptoms because, in today’s society, people constantly find themselves behind computer screens at work — and even while relaxing at home. This is the digital age. With people using their smartphones hourly and their computer monitors both at work and at home, it’s easy to see why we’re all experiencing computer eye strain more often.

If you find yourself feeling discomfort due to any of the symptoms mentioned above, try these quick tips to find computer eye strain relief.

Blink Your Eyes

Blinking is very important for your eyes because it provides moisture and prevents your eyes from becoming itchy or dry. When you’re focused on your computer screen, whether you’re staring at a spreadsheet or playing an online game, there’s a good chance you aren’t blinking your eyes — maybe at all! Try keeping your eyes from blinking when you’re not staring at a computer screen and see what happens. It doesn’t feel great, does it? That’s what’s happening when you aren’t blinking enough in front of your monitor.

Adjust the Room’s Lighting

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Make sure you’re using your computer in a properly lit room, and take note that “properly lit” doesn’t mean “super-bright.” Excessive brightness can also create eye strain, especially when it comes from the natural sunlight streaming through your window. Use your window shades or drapes to soften the sunlight, and use lower-intensity bulbs in your lamps. Comfortable lighting is essential for preventing eye strain. And, as an added benefit, it can also help reduce stress.

Adjust Your Screen’s Brightness and Contrast

Access your computer display settings and make adjustments to match the brightness of the room. You also want to adjust the contrast of the writing and background so you aren’t squinting at your monitor. While you’re at it, change the font size and color to see if this helps. These adjustments can give your eyes a break and make your reading experience on a computer screen a more pleasant one.

Give Yourself a Break

Try to avoid staring at your computer screen for a prolonged period — and try not to sit in the same position for hours at a time. If you can’t take a 15-minute break away from your computer screen, take a mini-break by standing up, stretching and maybe going for a lap around your home or office. Give your eyes time to relax and a chance to get the blood circulating to prevent eye strain and stiff muscles.

Move Your Monitor

If your computer is in a cramped space in the corner of a cubicle, consider moving it. When you look away from the computer screen to give your eyes a break, you don’t want to find yourself staring directly at a wall or a cluttered bulletin board. Instead, try to move your monitor to an area that allows you to look off into the distance when you turn away.

Get Rid of the Glare

Any glare coming from your computer screen can cause eye strain. But glare can also come from walls, windows and other reflective surfaces. If possible, install an anti-glare screen on your computer monitor, and cover reflective surfaces in your space any way you can. If you haven’t already, try closing the blinds or shades on your windows while working on your computer. This helps to minimize glare issues from the sunlight outside.

Perform Eye Exercises for Relaxation

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You can prevent or minimize eye strain with a few simple eye exercises:

  • Focus on an object in the distance and stare at it for a few minutes. Look out of your window for a few minutes to give your eyes the chance to focus on different things.
  • Rub your palms together to make them warm and bring them up to your eyes. Cup your closed eyes with your palms and take deep breaths as you visualize staring off at something distant. Open your eyes and release, repeating these steps at least three times.
  • Close your eyes and roll your neck, head and shoulders to relax your eyes and reduce any shoulder pain.

Splash Your Eyes With Water

If you start to feel your eyes burning, head to the restroom and splash a little cold water over your eyes. Allow the water to slowly dry on its own before heading back to your computer.

Give Yourself a Facial Massage

Wet a cloth towel or dampen a paper towel with some warm water. Gently rub your cheeks, forehead and neck with the towel. Continue to massage these areas of your face without rubbing your eyes. This can stimulate the nerves around your eyes to relieve the feelings of strain.

Visit an Eye Doctor

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If your eye strain symptoms persist, it’s time for a talk with a healthcare professional. An eye exam can help determine if you have any other, more serious issues going on that are causing pain.

Resource Links:

Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Understanding and Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Digital eye strain in the era of COVID-19 pandemic: An emerging public health threat,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Computer Use and Vision-Related Problems Among University Students In Ajman, United Arab Emirate,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Eyeing computer vision syndrome: Awareness, knowledge, and its impact on sleep quality among medical students,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health