If you spend a lot of time working on a computer, you’ll probably have noticed that your eyes often get tired, itch or sting. If they do, STOP! Your eyes are much more important than whatever you are working on, and anyway, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent suffering in the first place.
If the computer screen is blinding you, you’ll find that your eyes get tired very quickly. Minimize reflection by thinking carefully about where to locate your screen (no windows or mirrors shining in, please!), making sure contrast and brightness are correct, and, finally, ensuring that your monitor is up-to-date. You may think your old-fashioned brick is just fine, but you will be really surprised at the difference between it and a sleek new flat-screen.
Pick an eye-friendly font
As far as I can see (boom boom!), there is no one font recommended by experts as easy on the eye. There is some consensus, however, that sans-serif scripts are easiest to read on screen. Bearing this in mind, think about using a font such as Verdana or Trebuchet MS in Microsoft Office or OpenOffice and don’t forget to choose a larger size for ease of reading, for example 11 or 12.
Change background color
It’s funny how quickly we get used to the normal look and feel of our screens, but changing the default background in Windows, especially for Word and other programs with a lot of ‘white’, can make a huge difference. Word 2003 gives you the option of white text on a blue background. It is easy to enable: Tools > Options > General, then ‘Blue background, white text’. There are three problems with this, however – I think it’s ugly, it only applies to Word documents and it’s not available in Office 2007. One alternative is to change the default color of all of the active backgrounds in Windows. Go to Control Panel > Display > Appearance > Advanced. You’ll see a window with smaller windows inside. Click on the phrase ‘Window text’. Below this, click on ‘Color 1’ and then ‘Other’. Choose whatever shade you think will be most comfortable – personally I use a very light gray. The change will take effect immediately and throughout the computer, so windows, search forms and menus will all be affected.
Rest your peepers
No matter what you are looking at, nothing will help if you don’t take regular breaks from the screen. It can be easy to forget if you get wrapped up in your work, though, so why not enlist some help? A little program like Eyes Relax will remember for you, reminding you to take the breaks that both you and your eyes need.