Updated November 2023
Are you a creative writer? Then you probably know what it’s like to suffer from eyestrain. Writers are often the victims of computer-related maladies such as headaches, blurry vision, itchy or dry eyes, and eyestrain, but there are steps you can take to ease suffering and protect your eyes from further stress.
So use these techniques to prevent eyestrain! And protect your eyes from future damage as well!
How to Avoid Eyestrain:
1. First, get a proper eye exam, update your glasses or contact lenses, and rule out any physical problems. (Studies indicate that those who spend a good deal of time in front of the computer are more at risk for glaucoma.)
2. Evaluate your workspace. Make sure your computer screen is at a comfortable viewing angle; working too close to the monitor can cause eyestrain and headaches (not to mention neck and back pain).
3. Adjust your background and font size. It’s nearly impossible to read white text on a black background, and straining to read a 10-point font is asking for trouble. If you write in the evening hours, check out a new application called f.lux, which makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day—warm at night and more like sunlight during the day. (http://stereopsis.com/flux/)
4. Reduce glare. Use indirect or reflective lighting when possible, and invest in an anti-glare filter for your computer monitor. Make sure your screen is at a 90-degree angle from any direct light source.
5. Take frequent breaks. Take a short walk, head to the break room for a cup of tea, or try this simple exercise if you can’t leave your desk: Shift your focus from your screen to an object that is at least 20 feet away, and focus on it for several seconds before returning your eyes to the screen. Repeat on a regular basis throughout the day.
6. Eating right, staying well-hydrated, and exercising regularly will have a positive effect on your eye health, and so will getting a good night’s sleep.
7. Try these two techniques to both relax and exercise your eyes (from Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, LaC, Eastern Region Director of the Optometric Extension Foundation program):
Rub your hands together until they feel warm (about 15 to 20 seconds). Then place your cupped hands over your closed eyes, being careful not to touch your eyes with the palms of your hands. The fingers of each hand should overlap and rest gently on the center of your forehead. Don’t create any unnecessary pressure on your face. If your arms get tired, rest your elbows on a table. Sit quietly for one to two minutes with your hands over your eyes. The more relaxed you become, the blacker the darkness you will see with your eyes closed.
Hold your thumb six inches from your nose and focus on it. Take one deep breath and exhale slowly. Then focus on an object about ten feet away. Take another deep breath and slowly exhale. Repeat this process 15 times.
Writers are especially prone to eyestrain and know that it can lead to loss of productivity and even long-term health problems. So take good care of your peepers—and leave us a comment if you have your own helpful hints to reduce strain, headaches, and other eye problems!
Want more tips and hints about the writing life? Subscribe to our free weekly e-publication, Submit Write Now! In the meantime, writers, we hope you’ll take these simple steps to reduce eyestrain and protect the health of your eyes.
QUESTION: What methods do you use to beat eyestrain?