Top Tips To Combat Eye Strain

Working at University

Working at an office desk can put constant strain on your eyes without you realising, making it imperative that you have regular eye tests. Constant exposure to display screen equipment and air conditioning can cause problems for your vision.

It is important that you make time to regularly check your eye health. Failing to do so could mean that your eyesight deteriorates and common treatable conditions become more severe. It’s recommended that you take an eyesight test at least once a year with a trusted and experienced optician.

In the meantime there are a number of things you can do to keep your eyes in great condition.

1. Display screen equipment can harm your eyes

Working at an office desk means that during the day you are going to be exposed to display screen equipment. Display screen equipment like computers and whiteboards can cause eyestrain and even dry your eyes out. It is important that you take regular breaks away from the screen to prevent this from happening and give your eyes plenty of time to adjust to the light.

It is recommended that you take a break from display screens every 20 – 30 minutes, giving your eyes time to repair. A break from your display screen doesn’t mean that you have to disrupt your daily schedule either. Simply look away from the screen when you send an email or take a look out of the office window now and again. You could even take a walk around for ten minutes or move to another room and eat a snack.

Most people will have their own office and computer to work on. Even the way you sit in front of the display screen can have a telling effect on your eyesight. It is vital that you position yourself correctly in front of the computer.  The screen should be at arm’s length away from you and should be at a comfortable eye level.

Make sure that the room you are working in is lit efficiently as this will stop the glare from the display screen putting strain on your eyes. Glare from white spaces on your computer can cause migraines too.

Staff who wear glasses are not exempt from this and they should ask their optician about anti-glare lenses. If glare is a problem and causing unnecessary strain on your eyes you should consider buying an anti-glare screen which are available for all computer monitors.

If you experience blurred vision, discomfort of the eyes, headaches or a stiff neck then it is likely you are suffering from eye strain. If this is not treated it can cause further problems.

These symptoms must be discussed with an experienced and trained optometrist who can then advise the best course of action for your eyes.

What to do:

  • Take a break every 20-30 minutes from your computer screen or whiteboard,
  • Ensure you are working in a well lit room to avoid glare,
  • Stay at arm’s length away from your screen and at a comfortable eye level,
  • Report any symptoms to your optometrist,
  • Book an eye test.


2. Room climates will dry your eyes out and cause irritation

No matter where you are within the office environment, it is likely that you will have contact with air conditioning or central heating. Both of these can dry your eyes out and cause problems if you are exposed to them for long periods of time.

Every time you blink, a tear is spread across the eyeball to create a film of protection, reducing the evaporation of moisture from the eye. Dry eyes occur when this film is broken or not enough tear is produced.

Air conditioning systems and central heating dry out the air and will reduce the amount of protective moisture on the eye, causing irritation and soreness. When possible, you should try to limit the amount of time that you come in to contact with one of these systems. If you are constantly exposed to them you should turn them off occasionally.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of dry eyes too. Drink plenty of water to keep your body and eyes hydrated, or place a bowl of water by a heater to humidify the room. Try turning the appliances down and make sure that there is plenty of ventilation.

Eye drops will help to keep your eyes moist when tear films are broken because of air conditioning and central heating. It is strongly recommended that you use eye drops if exposed to the systems on a daily basis.

The reduction in air will cause your eyes to feel extremely uncomfortable and you may experience gritty or burning sensations when you blink. Dry eye will affect both of your eyes and symptoms will worsen as the day goes on. If you notice these symptoms you will need to give your eyes time to recuperate.

Should the condition feel as though it is getting worse you will need to visit an optometrist immediately. They will be able to give you advice and solutions to the problem. A simple eye test will also highlight any damage that has been caused.

What to do:

  • Keep your eyes hydrated with eye drops,
  • Spend time away from cooling and heating appliances,
  • Make sure rooms are ventilated,
  • Turn down appliances when possible,
  • Visit an optometrist if symptoms worsen.


3. Lack of exercise and the wrong foods can affect your eyes

If you are constantly on the go, it can mean that from time to time exercise opportunities are missed and important meals are forgotten. This can have a big affect on your eyes. Poor eyesight is directly linked to poor circulation; something that can be prevented with regular exercise.

Food is another contributing factor to good eyesight. Dark fruit and vegetables have high vitamin concentration all of which helps the eye to function properly and reduce risk of natural damage.

Vitamin C which can be found in carrots, and vitamin A and E from nuts and sweet potato are extremely good for your eyesight.  These vitamins will help to lower your chances of developing age related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Blood vessels in the eye can clog because of excess fat and cholesterol. Common eye problems like glaucoma are often linked to diet and conditions such as vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Spinach, oranges, peppers, sweetcorn and peaches are just a few dark fruits and vegetables that contain anti-oxidants called Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These anti-oxidants travel to the retina and mop-up free radicals in your eyes that cause cell damage. They will also work as a natural UV ray defence, stopping blue light from reaching the back of the eye and causing damage.

What to do:

  • Exercise regularly to keep good circulation to the eyes,
  • Avoid missing a meal,
  • Eat dark fruit and vegetables,
  • Eat plenty of food containing vitamins A, C and E.


4. Missing regular eye tests mean that your eyes will suffer.

When your diary is full and you have an action packed week planned, you have very little time for yourself.  Booking and making it to an eye test can be very difficult - especially if don’t live in the same area as your work.

It is extremely important that you find time at some point in your schedule to get your eyes tested. It is recommended that you attend an eye examination at least once every 1-2 years so that eye conditions can be identified and corrected.

Failure to attend eye examinations will mean that common and treatable eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, myopia and hypermetropia will all go unnoticed and be much harder to treat in later life.

There is a plus side for those who commute and work with computers though. If you are due an eye test you should ask your manager about the Eye Care Plan. You will then be able to go online and register for an eye care voucher. An appointment will then be booked for you without having to pay a penny.

What to do:

  • Make time in your schedule for an eye test,
  • Ask your manager for details on the voucher scheme available to you such as Eye Care Plan.
  • Attend an eye test even if you think your eyes are healthy,
  • Be aware of exposure to display screen equipment and cooling/ heating appliances,
  • Take regular breaks to rest your eyes.


It is vital that you regularly make the trip to an optician so that your eye health is checked and any unknown conditions can be corrected. You should make the most of the Eye Care Plan if it is available to you and ensure that your eyes are looked after.

If you’re currently looking for an optician then my team at Vision Opticians in Southfields Village will be delighted to help. Simply call us on 020 8874 1001 or email