If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen you might experience some physical discomfort including tired or watery eyes, blurred vision, headache, neck/back/shoulder pain, and other symptoms associated with sitting in one place staring at a fixed spot. There are a number of things you can do to make your screen time a little easier on your body and mind.
If you are experiencing headaches or vision problems or you simply can’t see the text on your screen very well, go see an eye care professional and get an exam to rule out any health factors. They may suggest blue light blocking lenses, eye drops for dry eyes, and other measures. Other things you can do to feel better include:
- Minimize glare – light reflecting off walls and from windows may make your screen harder to read. You can get an anti-glare screen cover. Make the brightness of your screen about the same as that in the room you are in.
- Switch lighting – pull the blinds or curtains or position your screen so that light isn’t in front or behind it. Try soft white LED lighting or full spectrum fluorescent lighting or just use fewer ambient lights.
- Blink – we often don’t realize that we blink less when looking at a screen. Make a conscious effort to blink, squeezing your eyes shut for a few seconds occasionally.
- Take a break – if you don’t have time to get up and stretch, at least every 20 minutes. Look away from the screen and into the distance about 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break from close work.
- Modify your workstation – you need to have an ergonomic setup. Your monitors should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at or just below eye level. If you can’t adjust your monitors, you can adjust your chair.
- To make text in Windows 10 bigger in the operating system go to the Ease of Access settings (Windows key + U) and slide the slider to the right to see sample text and then click “apply”.
- To make images and apps bigger in the Ease of Access settings under “Make everything bigger” on the display tab expand the drop-down menu and choose the percentage you want to increase. Until you log out and back in not all the changes may take effect, but it will apply immediately to most things.
- To make your cursor and pointer larger and higher contract go to your Ease of Access settings and under “Cursor and Pointer” increase the size and color contrast.
- If you don’t want to increase the defaults all the time and just want to zoom in, you can open the magnifier. Press the Windows logo key and the Plus (or Minus) key. To close the Magnifier, press Windows key and Esc.
- You can lower blue light emitted from your PC with Night light. Blue light is one of the primary causes of eye strain and resulting headaches and blurred vision. To reduce the blue light emitted by your screen go to Settings – System – Display and click to turn the night light on or off. You can also customize the color temperature or schedule it.
- If you want to have Windows read the screen to you learn about Narrator, a screen reading app built into Windows 10 and 11.
- To increase text size in Windows 11, select the Start button, then select Settings – Accessibility – Text size and use the slider to make just the text on your screen larger.
- To scale up everything on your screen change the Scale drop down menu under Scale & Layout to a larger percentage.
- To increase the size and change the color of your cursor and pointer go to Start – Settings – Accessibility – Mouse pointer & touch. Choose the options that work best for you.
- To turn on Night light to reduce blue light on the screen go into Settings – System – Display and under Brightness and Color turn on Night Light.
- In Windows 10 and 11 you can also change the colors to have more contrast. See the instructions to do this, and learn about other handy settings and accessibility products.
- You can increase the font and page size in Microsoft Word (and Excel and PowerPoint) by using the slider in the bottom right of the Status bar at the bottom of the screen. Don’t see it? Right click on the Status Bar and make sure the Zoom Slider is selected. There are other tools like Focus, Read Mode, and Web Layout in the Status Bar, though they may hide important toolbars.
- You can also make it easier to proofread a document by going to the View tab and choosing “Immersive Reader”. You can change the page width, focus on a few lines of text at a time with Focus view, or increase the spacing between words and syllables. Read Aloud is another feature of Immersive Reader.
- There aren’t many ways to make it easier to read Microsoft Outlook in the application. In the View tab you can consider ways to make the interface less cluttered by turning off “Show as Conversations”, removing Message Preview, and turning off the Reading Pane and To Do bar. Click on “Use Tighter Spacing” to toggle to a more spread-out view.
- If you want to draw attention to emails from particular people or with subjects or attributes you can use conditional formatting. In the View tab click on View Settings. In the Advanced View Settings menu that appears click on “Conditional Formatting”. Adding formatting is much like writing a rule. Choose words in specific fields, from: or Sent to: and “Where I am” conditions. Click the “More Choices” tab to apply formatting to categorized emails and other criteria. Then pick a font size, font type and color. For instance, messages that appear in your email from an important client or partner can appear with in Forte regular font in purple in a bigger font size to help make it stand out.
- In Chrome in the More (vertical dots) menu you can Zoom in on a page or hold down the Ctrl key and click the plus or minus keys. You can also click F11 to show full screen. Click F11 again to return to the normal screen. You can go into Settings and increase the font size and page zoom by default under Appearance.
- In Microsoft Edge click the “More” (three horizontal dots) to increase the Zoom and click F11 to show full screen. Click F11 again to return to the normal screen.
- For some pages you can have the browser read the page aloud by clicking A in the address bar. It will highlight the words on the page as it reads.
- Immersive Reader is another option to make it easier to read the text on a web page. Turn on Immersive Reader by clicking on the book icon in the address bar or click F9. Immersive Reader removes many ads and extra text. It allows you to increase the text size and change text spacing, the font, column style and page themes. You can also use it to read aloud. In Immersive Reader you can right click and print to have a clean, readable version of a web page printed to paper, PDF, or OneNote.
Your computer monitor throws off blue light and imperceptible flickering that lead to eye strain. An app called Iris (https://iristech.co/) reduces screen glare and blue light for protecting your eyes for those long days at the computer. Iris has a free trial and then it is a $15 lifelong 1-time purchase or $50 lifelong with future updates – both you can move to a new machine. Or try the free Iris Mini to see if you like it. Iris works with Macs, Windows and Linux. They also have tools you can add to your website, as well as apps for those with color blindness called Vision.
Of course, if you spend a lot of time on your smartphone there are ways to cut down blue light on iPhones/iPads with Night Shift (your Mac too) and Android phones. If you tend to look at your phone before bed it is especially important to reduce the blue light, and you can put it on a timer! Take a few steps to make your computing more comfortable for your eyes and you may find yourself a little less fatigued at the end of your day.