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Combat Eye Strain

Change screen settings and use apps to make your devices friendlier on the eyes.

It’s that time of year. Chilly, damp weather drives us to curl up on the couch and affix ourselves to our phones, tablets, and TVs.

With less time outside and more time in front of screens, eye strain is a real concern. The unnatural light from smartphones and computers paired with focusing up-close for too long leads to tired eyes and headaches—migraines, in extreme cases.

Read on to find out how you can combat the problem:

Change your television and computer monitor settings

Change display settings to warmer tones. Blue tones tend to be harsher on your eyes. You can also change the screen to black, with white text, which lessens the amount of light bombarding you. For Microsoft users, adjust display settings in the Control Panel. For Apple, change your display in Systems Preferences.

 

African-american woman holding smartphone.

iPhone settings

We found this list of seven display settings on the iPhone to customize your screen to ease eye strain, courtesy of CNET.

1. Brightness: Adjust the brightness of your screen from the Settings menu. Usually, dimmer=less strain, but beware dimming too much. Find the “Goldilocks” brightness setting.

2. Auto-Brightness: iPhones come with an Auto-Brightness setting that shifts with the ambient light. Access this to turn it on or off by going to Settings>General>Accessibility>Display Accommodations>Auto-Brightness.

3. Reduce White Point: While you’re in Display Accommodations, check out the Reduce White Point function. Brightness stays consistent while the intensity of colors goes down.

4. Night Shift: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the sun/moon icon. You’ll have the option to schedule when Night Shift turns on daily, so it automatically dims the screen while you’re on your smartphone after sunset.

5. Auto-lock: Saving your battery life is (maybe) as important as saving your eyes! Head to Display & Brightness in the Settings menu to choose how long your iPhone sits before it locks (and stops sucking battery life.)

6. Text Size and Bold Text: Also in the Display & Brightness menu, making text bigger and bolder will ease your eyes.

7. True Tone: This function dynamically adjusts white tones to match ambient lighting. It’s less harsh on the eyes. Find it in the Display & Brightness menu.

Android settings

You can change some settings to be more eye-friendly in your Android smartphone, too.

Tap the Settings Cog>Display. Here, most Android phones offer a “Blue light filter” that you can turn on to reduce the amount of the more eye-fatiguing blue light your screen can produce. Note: Android phone menus are different, depending on your model of smartphone.

The Auto brightness setting optimizes brightness for available light. Some people find themselves straining to see a dimmer screen, though, so it’s all about balance. You might choose to keep the brighter display.

Apps to reduce eye strain

F.lux is a Windows application that adapts your computer monitor to mimic the time of day, so you’re not blinded by the first email check of the morning or kept up too late with circadian rhythm-wrecking blue lights late at night.

The Twilight app for Android devices warms blue tones and “harmonizes your screen with the sun,” much like F.lux.

Old-fashioned, analog solutions

Take a walk. It may seem like walking would have nothing to do with your eyes, but simply taking a break from screens—especially outside, where natural light is better for your eyes than artificial light—will give those tired eyes a rest. Plus, moving your body to improve circulation and reduce stress helps, too!

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes, gaze 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This serves as a mini reset for your eyes, and allows those tiny focusing muscles inside them to relax. This will also trigger blinking, which helps lubricate eyes.

Get new glasses. Your eye doctor may have a better lens solution. Special coatings on the lenses can filter out harsh light, or maybe your prescription needs to be tweaked. Some people get better results by removing their glasses altogether while at the computer, especially if your prescription is for near-sightedness. Some people use weak reading glasses while at the computer.

Indirect lighting is usually easier on the eyes than harsh fluorescents. Turn on a lamp, open the blinds a little. Let in some soft light instead of overloading with bright light.

 

 

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