Ergonomics and Medical Transcription: Tips to Avoid Eyestrain

Sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time is hard on your eyes. If you experience blurred vision, dry eyes, glare sensitivity, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, or even a vague eye discomfort that you can’t pinpoint but keeps you squinting and frowning at the monitor, you may have computer-related eyestrain. Symptoms like these will get worse if ignored. To alleviate eyestrain, you need to identify the problems in your environment or method, and then make the appropriate changes.

Take a look at your monitor.
I know, you do that all day—but really take a look at it, because it may be causing you grief. Make sure it’s at least 20 inches away from your eyes— 24-28 inches away is even better—with the center about 4-6 inches below eye level (many of us actually look up at the monitor, craning our necks, which contributes to upper body pain, including headaches). Make sure the monitor is not too light or too dark. You should be able to look at it comfortably. Antiglare screen covers are a great idea if glare is a problem in your workspace.

Give your eyes a break!
Keep the 20-20-20 rule in mind: every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. This gives your hardworking little eye muscles a much needed break! Take note of blurred vision or a delay in refocusing—these could be symptoms of computer-related eye problems.

Analyze your light sources.
Bright overhead lighting can fight with the angle of the light coming from your monitor and lamps, creating real problems for those sensitive to it. Keep the overhead lighting to a minimum, choosing indirect lamp lighting instead. Shine your desk lamp on your workspace. Keep window light off the computer screen. Try to avoid sitting with the window directly in front of or behind you—ideally, you should close the blinds.

An eye examination with a reputable doctor is always a good idea if you suspect problems. You may be prescribed computer eyeglasses or eye drops to help alleviate your eyestrain. Take good care of your eyes—you only get one pair!

-Jill McNitt
CS Student Support

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