Human eyes aren’t designed for prolonged close work. Reading, normal computer use or eye-intensive hobbies such as needlework or model-making won’t permanently harm your eyes, but they may cause tiredness, headaches and temporary blurred vision.

Fortunately, there are many simple measures you can take to avoid eye strain when doing close work.

  • SIT RIGHT Make sure your computer screen is set at the right angle – below eye level and slightly titled backwards – and sit the correct distance away, with your eyes at least 60cm (24in) from the screen.
  • DON’T SQUINT Always wear the right prescription glasses or lenses if you need them. If you’re still straining to see your computer screen, increase the font size rather than squinting or leaning forward.
  • BLINK A LOT Intense focusing on a printed page or especially a computer screen tends to reduce your blink rate. As blinking keeps the front of your eyes moist, a fixed gaze makes your eyes more prone to irritation. You may have to concentrate on deliberately blinking more, ideally every 4 or 5 seconds.
  • REST YOUR EYES Try not to do close work when you’re already tired.
  • GLANCE UP REGULARLY Do it for just a second or so every few minutes – preferably look into the far distance – and take a complete break for a few minutes every half to three-quarters of an hour: make a cup of tea, do some brief exercise, go for a quick stroll in the garden.
  • BRIGHTEN UP Ensure you have good lighting at your working area, positioned above or to your side, not directly in front or behind it.