How to Make Computers Easier on the Eyes
Computer Vision Syndrome is the official name for eye strain and other vision problems caused by hours in front of a computer, and until recently was rarely seen in anyone under 40. But now because of more frequent sessions on the computer, it is a common complaint experienced by people of all ages. Thankfully, there are some simple measures you can take to make your hours in front of the computer more comfortable.
Take a look around
Start by positioning the monitor squarely in front of you at arm’s length, about 18 to 28 inches away with the top of the monitor level with your eyes. The ideal viewing angle is 10 to 20 degrees below eye level, which is the same way you might naturally hold a book.
Next, assess the lighting in the room. While eye care professionals note that people over 50 need twice as much light for reading as their younger counterparts, eye strain is often caused by light surrounding the computer that is too bright.
Strive for a balance between your computer screen and the light in the room. Place your computer with windows to the side of the monitor, rather than in front or behind. Depending on the time of day, you may need to close drapes, turn on additional lights or make other adjustments.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces as well as reflections on the monitor can cause eye strain. If you have a choice, put your computer in a room that’s not painted white. If you wear glasses, you can have an anti-reflective coating applied to the lenses, which is more effective than computer shields for reducing all types of glare.
Monitor upgrade and adjustments
If you are working on an old cathode ray tube monitor, consider replacing it with a flat panel LCD monitor. The upgrade will reduce glare and eliminate the flickering found in CRT monitors. Meanwhile, adjust the old monitor’s refresh rate to above 75 hertz, to reduce irritating flicker. Check your computer’s help section for how to access this setting.
LCD and the newer energy saving LED monitors offer much clearer text than CRT monitors. And with Microsoft’s ClearType technology available for XP, Vista and Windows 7, the readability of text may be further improved resulting in crisper text. If you use XP or Vista, you must download a plugin from Microsoft and go through a series of samples to determine settings that are best for you.
If you are in the market for a new monitor, choose a relatively large display. Most electronics stores have a good selection of 21 to 23-inch monitors for $200 or less.
Advanced users might like to try a Web site that offers a series of test pictures to help adjust their LCD monitor like http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/. Compare the test images to your monitor’s picture to identify settings that could use an adjustment like contrast, brightness, sharpness, black levels and white saturation.
In general, text size should be three times the smallest text size you can read from your normal viewing position, so if you can read 4 point type, 12 point type would be easiest on your eyes. Black text on a white background is ideal.
To change the text size and find other useful tools, Vista and Windows 7 users may select Ease of Access in the Control Panel to choose a high contrast color scheme, change the size of text and icons, and turn on a magnifier. XP users can make display adjustments under Settings or Appearance in the Control Panel.
All versions of Microsoft Windows as well as the Mac operating system have a built-in magnifier. The magnifier zooms in anywhere on the screen to make everything in the selected area larger. Find the magnifier with a search in the Start window.
You can also change the size of everything within your browser window when you are online. Hold down the Ctrl key and press the "+" key at the same time to make everything bigger. Press the Ctrl key and the "-" key at the same time to make everything smaller. This works with all browsers including Internet Explorer , Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.
If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can use it to make things larger and smaller. Hold down the Ctrl key and move the mouse up to enlarge text and other elements on your screen or move it down to make things smaller. One advantage to using a scroll wheel on the mouse is that it works in other programs like Microsoft Word and on your desktop display as well as within browser windows.
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