Avoid Eyestrain with your Laptop

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Laptops allow you to use your computer anywhere, but their design does require attention to ergonomics!

The risk of strain to the eyes, neck, shoulders and arms is actually higher with laptops than with desktop computers because you cannot locate the keyboard and the screen at appropriate levels.

Laptop Eye Strain

Working at a Desk

If you are working at a desk the very best thing to do is to connect your laptop to an external monitor, and even better, add an external keyboard and mouse. This'll create less shoulder and arm tension. This is especially true if you are working for more than two hours at one sitting.

If you can't use an external monitor, try an external keyboard - which will allow you to raise your laptop screen to a level wherein your head will be slightly inclined downward. Your eyes should be approximately at the level of the top of the screen.

If you have no external monitor or keyboard?
Better to sacrifice the stronger neck muscles to the more delicate wrist muscles, so raise the laptop so that your elbows are at 90 degrees and your wrists are straight.

Working on your Lap

Adjust your screen to an angle that lessens the need to bend your neck. Try to reduce reflections from windows, lights, etc.

Dust your screen.

Don't lean close to see clearly. Increase the font size! On PCs you can hit CTRL+ to enlarge, and CTRL- to decrease the font size. Trying to see uncomfortably small fonts can actually raise your blood pressure & stress level.

Make sure overall illumination of the room is no more than three times brighter than the screen

Adjust screen brightness and contrast properly.

Use a desk lamp if possible instead of an overhead light.

General Points

  • Take mini-breaks at every 20 minutes to allow eyes and muscles to recuperate - this is more effective than fewer long breaks. Try 2-3 minutes every 15-20 minutes, 5 minutes every 30 minutes, or 10 minutes every hour. Just looking out the window for a few minutes from time to time is very helpful, or anything more than 20 feet away. Or stand up and take a stretch.
  • Remember to blink! Computer users blink far less often which leads to dry eye syndrome and fatigue.
  • At a bare minimum, get up and stretch or move around at least once every two hours.
  • Stretch frequently, even sitting at your desk.
  • Change tasks to prevent muscle stiffness. Type, then write a few notes, then pause and go to your photo editor for a while.
  • Don't compute in a dark room. you need the room brightness to at least equal the brightness of the screen.
  • Humidity is helpful - if your home office's is dry, especially in the winter, get a humidifier.
  • Have your eye doctor prescribe glasses for your vision at the distance of the length of your arm. You want to be at least at that distance from your computer screen.