Eyestrain? What to Do When Even Apple’s Retina Display Leaves You Squinting


eyestrain

You’ve been looking at your computer screen for hours, and you suddenly begin to notice that your vision is a little blurry and your eyes are having trouble focusing; you think to yourself, “My iMac Retina 5K display has failed me!” But don’t despair! Eyestrain happens to all of us, and there are some quick and simple tips that can relieve eyestrain and get you back to work (or play).

Apple’s Retina display, as Steve Jobs explained it, packs around 300 pixels per inch, making it virtually impossible for your retina to distinguish the individual pixels when the screen is 10 to 12 inches away from your eyes. Many of Apple’s devices (with the notable exception of the MacBook Air) now sport their trademarked Retina display, but the screen alone won’t solve your eyestrain problems.

eyestrain

As it turns out, eyestrain caused by looking at a computer screen for too long is a relatively common complaint. All over the world, people are spending huge amounts of time starting at screens. for some people, it may be more serious than just a casual irritation. In some cases, it could be computer vision syndrome (CVS). CVS entails eyestrain caused by computers as well as other visual issues that are associated with people who work with computers, so if you notice that after using your computer for a few hours, your eyes are more painful than usual, you should get an eye exam. Working with computers can exacerbate problems we already have with our eyes, so even if you have glasses, getting a regular checkup can determine or rule out any new, ongoing or additional problems with your vision that may be causing your eyestrain.

The iMac is a beautiful all-in-one machine, but yours may sit too high or low, causing eyestrain as well as a number of other physical maladies. Consider repositioning your computer so that you can use it more comfortably. Even though you often see computer monitors sitting on the corner of a desk in the movies, the best place for your monitor is right on front of your face. You should also position the display so that you are slightly looking down at the screen. If you’re a tall person, or you like to work in a high chair, you may want to take a look at a small shelf for your iMac; a shelf like Twelve South’s HiRise gives you hidden storage as well as a height boost. Or, if you’re working on a MacBook, Twelve South’s BaseLift can give you the lift you’re looking for. The BaseLift takes design cues from the iPad’s Smart Cover, folding at the base of your laptop and giving your computer a little lift.

eyestrain

In addition to your computer’s height on your desk, the amount of light (or lack there of) you’re working under could also cause a problem for your vision; the lighting in your home or office may also be contributing to your eyestrain. If you find yourself, as I often do, working for prolonged periods of time on a MacBook, you’ll notice that the laptop isn’t as equipped for ergonomic work as desktops and often the lighting around you throws glare on your screen, especially if you’re using the laptop on your lap. Many anti-privacy screens also feature anti-glare qualities, taking a tremendous amount of glare out of your screen and upping your privacy when you’re on the go.

If you have to stare at your computer screen for hours every day, a Retina display can certainly help to reduce eyestrain, but you really should reassess everything from your eye prescription to your computer’s physical location on your desk. These relatively simple fixes can keep you working today and keep your eyes healthy for the long run.

Do you often find yourself squinting at your display? How do you reduce eyestrain? Leave your tips in the comments below.

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Justin McGee

Writer. Editor. Teacher. Thinker. Follow Justin on Twitter @jstnmm.

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  1. Best way to avoid glare, particularly the older shiny iMacs, block the windows, kill any overhead lights and only use table lamps, with shades that only shine down on your keyboard and papers.