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March 18, 2013 by APRIL McCARTHY
Need To Be Glued To Your Screen? 3 Easy Ways To Reduce Eye Strain and Screen Fatigue

The more time we spend front of a computer, the more likely we are to suffer a host of physical, mental and sleep-related ills. There is a significant relationship between duration of daily screen display use and physical symptoms such as headaches, migraines, back pain, depression and anxiety. All office workers have to do is learn three simple ways to reduce eye strain and screen fatigue.

Mental symptoms such as lethargy, anxiety and "reluctance to go to work," as well as sleep-related problems including insomnia and fatigue, were most common among workers who spent more than 5 hours a day glued to their computer screen.

"We don't have many studies on how long a person can safely use a computer each day, which is odd considering the entire world's economy is now dependent on them," said Occupational Therapist, Ally Kulina. "The best was to reduce irritated eyes, headaches, neck pain, and blurred visiony are to simply take a break."

Kulina says that although taking a break is the "best way" to reduce screen fatigue, sometimes workers just can't or are unwilling due to commitments and deadlines. She suggests three effective ways if you must be glued to your screen:

1) Blinking

Blinking 2 times every second for at least 10 seconds combined with looking away from the screen and focusing on an object at least 15 feet away.

This method works for anybody who needs to spend time in front of screen. Blinking is an essential function of the eye that helps spread tears across and remove irritants from the surface of the cornea and conjunctiva. Blink speed can be affected by elements such as fatigue, eye injury and medication. The blinking rate is determined by the "blinking center" which can be affected by external stimulus such as a computer screen.

2) Glare Reduction

If you're willing to tackle your ailing eyes head-on with exercises, there are a few products worth considering, all with different approaches which help reduce glare and screen fatigue.

- LED Bias Lighting Kit
Tiny LED lights are strung together on an adhesive strip. It employs a technique called "bias lighting" that creates a soft white glow around your screen, reducing eye fatigue by "increasing perceived image clarity."

- Glare Reducing Task Light
This is a great flexible option, since you can move it around anywhere you'd like. It has the added benefit of being perfectly compatible with a laptop.

If you're not ready to pony up the cash or you'd rather experiment on your own, there are plenty of ways to fight eye fatigue that won't cost you a dime. If glare is your problem, be sure to turn off overhead lights and face your screen away from direct sunlight. Keeping your monitor or laptop lid at a 90 degree angle can also mitigate the glare from nearby light sources.

3) Calibrate Your Screen

Calibrating your computer means that images are displayed as they are meant to be seen, with accurate colors, brightness, and contrast.

Many external monitors include this feature in the settings menu. If you're working on a Mac, a built-in tool called Display Calibrator Assistant walks you through this, step-by-step. You can find the tool by opening System Preferences > Displays then choosing the Color tab and clicking Calibrate. On other computers, a web tool called Screen Check can perform the same function. Don't be afraid to explore the settings to decide what looks right for you.

Try out different settings on your computer, spend an hour or two with the screen at a lower brightness level and see if that feels better. Just play around and find what feels best for you.

Kulina stresses that glassed in front of screen are a sure way to deteriorate your vision in the long-term, so unless you are far-sighted get rid of any corrective lenses in front of a screen.

April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.

Reference Sources 89, 106, 226, 231
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