4 Ways To Prevent Computer-Related Eye Strain Without Losing Productivity

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computer eye strainDo you spend many hours in front of a computer screen? If you do, you’re probably familiar with the inescapable computer eye strain that comes with it. Headaches, burning eyes, itchiness and just being tired, are all symptoms of long hours of staring at a screen.

I will be the first one to tell you that the ultimate solution is to spend less time at the computer. Taking a walk or looking out the window are all effective ways to relieve eye strain. Unfortunately, we can’t always get up when we feel like it and go for a stroll. It’s also hard to remember to take breaks when we’re so engrossed in our work. So how can you remember to give your eyes some relief without totally losing your train of thought in the process?

EyeDefender [Windows]

EyeDefender operates under the same principle as many eye relief web apps – break reminders – but being a desktop app, it’s harder to get away from.

computer eye strain

The app sits in your tray, and counts down to the next break. When the time comes, you can choose from four different eye-resting activities: looking at pictures of your choosing, doing some eye exercises, activate the default screensaver or just pop up a balloon reminder (for those with excellent will power).

computer monitor eye strain

I find the visual training to be especially useful. The screen darkens, and you get to follow the display with your eyes and move your eyes around a bit. This works even on dual monitors, and you cannot get back to work until the break is over. A definite improvement to the constant staring at a bright screen.

Workrave [Windows & Linux]

Workrave is a nice open-source break reminder which includes reminders for micro-breaks (short), rest breaks (long) and daily limits for computer time.

computer monitor eye strain

You can set the breaks any way you want, and choose whether you want to have the option to skip or postpone the break. The break is simply a window letting you know of the break, but when it’s activated, you can’t use your computer until the break is over (or until you choose to skip or postpone).

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computer monitor eye strain

During the breaks, you can get up from the computer, look away, or do some exercises the app provides in its interface.

f.lux [Windows, Mac & Linux]

If you want to relieve computer eye strain even while you work, f.lux is an excellent solution. This well-known app automatically adapts your screen brightness to the time of day, thus preventing the eye strain which comes with staring at a very bright screen in a dark room.

eyes burning computer strain

All you have to do is set your current location, and f.lux will automatically determine what time the sun sets and will dim your display at the right moment every day. If you’re doing color-sensitive work, you can disable f.lux for one hour. This is a great way to relieve eye-strain between your resting breaks.

Sunglasses [Chrome]

Sunglasses is a cute Chrome extension which lets you control the browser’s brightness separately from the rest of your computer.

computer eye strain

Say you’re reading a lengthy article in Chrome, and at some point find the whole thing to be way too bright. Simply click the sunglasses icon on the top right, choose your new brightness and click save. You can now continue reading or working in a much darker and more soothing environment. This controls only your browser, so the general brightness settings will not be touched.

The extension also sports keyboard shortcuts if you’re a keyboard person. One thing I would like to see added is the option to set different brightness settings for different tabs.

Didn’t get enough? For some more break-reminder tools, check out Tina’s 3 Tools To Remind Yourself To Take A Break & Relax While Working At The Computer.

How do you get relief from long hours of staring at the screen? Any innovative methods or tools? Share in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Comments (24)
  • Brainpup

    this link takes you to an Ad sponsered page and not to RedshiftGUI.

  • itoctopus

    I lower the brightness of the laptop to the 30% of the maximum brightness, and I try to look far away in the horizon every 30 minutes or so.

    Maybe I will check f.lux

  • Michael Lockhart

    I have been using Microsoft Magnifier to reverse-video the screen — particularly helpful for programs that can’t / won’t change to darker themes, and toggles with a single keypress (Win+i).  f.lux looks much more useful for this though, I’ll check it out.
    I found workrave to be too disruptive to my work — I really can’t take a break (or be distracted by it’s nagging) in the middle of resolving client problems.
    Working at home in a shed in the back yard affords me opportunities to get out for fresh air and regular short walks. Recommended if you are able to.

    • Yaara

      Magnifier is a good tool, I’ve written about it in a different article.

      I do think f.lux can do a better job when it comes to dimming brightness, as it does so automatically and according to sunrise and sunset.

      Working out of a shed sounds awesome. I have a small balcony which I try to visit every once in a while, but living on the 8th floor, I can’t take walks as often as I would want.

  • Maw74656

    Will this even help if I’m in an inside room with no windows?

    • Yaara

      Well, there are other problems that arise when you work in a windowless room, but I’m sure it will help relieve your screen-related eye strain anyway, which might solve part of the problem.

  • Yaara

    Never heard of this one, thanks!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.