Preventing Visual Discomfort

Visual discomfort can occur when your eyes start to feel tired, they may go slightly blurry, and they often get dry and itchy. While for the most part this does not present a serious problem, there are ways to minimize fatigue and prevent discomfort. Take the following steps to prevent or reduce visual discomfort.

Select the proper monitor

  • Select a monitor that is large enough for what you do. You should be able to read text on the screen without straining to read it. This means that the text generally displayed should be at least 3x the size of the smallest text you can read. Sit the proper distance away from the screen to allow for easy reading.
  • Select a monitor with a good resolution, and with a dot pitch of less than .28 mm.
  • Use a refresh rate of at least 70 Hz, this will help to reduce flicker.
  • You should adjust the screen brightness to match the overall brightness of the room. Too bright or too dim can strain your eyes.

Keep lighting even

  • Eliminate bright sources in your field of vision. To test if something is bothering your vision, block it with your hand, and if this provides some relief it is causing you problems, so you should move it or block it from your field of vision.
  • Wear a visor to block overhead lights from your eyes
  • Sit at a 90° angle from windows, and at least 3 feet away. Close blinds or curtains that are creating glare.

Reduce monitor glare

If you can see reflections in your monitor, you may have a problem with glare.

  • Use a monitor visor to reduce glare from overhead lighting
  • Adjust the positioning and tilt of your monitor to eliminate glare
  • If you cannot eliminate glare with the above steps, use a glare guard, a polarized one if you sit near a window.

Get into the habit

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule. To prevent fatigue, every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Be aware of the stare - you will tend to blink less often when looking at a computer screen, which reduces lubrication of the eyes and can lead to dry, itchy eyes.
  • Clean your screen often.
  • If you wear glasses, especially bifocal or progressive lenses, consider getting computer-specific glasses made.

UCLA Ergonomics. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from Preventing Visual Discomfort web site: