Have you ever thought that a screen is essentially a flat, rectangular torch that is being shone in your face? Extended periods of use can cause dry eyes, and eye fatigue, headaches, and even migraines.
Any computer user can find it uncomfortable to look at a screen for long sessions. For some users the situation - and consequently the solution - can be more serious.
You can make a huge difference by taking regular breaks and reducing the glare of your screen.
Salesmen tend to like setting the screens as bright as possible with very a high-contrast. Although this can look attractive in shops it might not necessarily be very suitable for your eyes.
The buttons used to adjust these settings can usually be found on the front of a monitor or somewhere on the keyboards of laptops. Check your manual or search for a solution on the web.
The standard Windows colour scheme includes a lot of bright white light emissions. Most notably is the bright white background found in Microsoft Word and OpenOffice, as well as when browsing the web.
These colours can be changed across the whole of Windows from menus to toolbards, and the ability to do this is built free into Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000 and XP. Follow this printable step-by-step guide for further information.
There is also a free piece of software available that is really easy to use but is not as flexible as the Control Panel options. Screen Tinter Lite and allows you to adjust the font colour and background colour of your 'Window Text' which affects word documents and web pages.
The flicker on a CRT screen can be fatiguing or even painful for some people - even though usually they don't realise the cause. Sometimes the flicker can also make it difficult to converge one's sight when looking at the screen therefore making it difficult to read text and causing the eyes to strain.
Specialist magnification software such as Zoomtext and Supernova are designed for people with poor sight for whom Windows' built-in accessibility options aren't enough. But as well as magnification, and possibly speech and Braille outputs, newer versions of Zoomtext and Supernova both include colour-dyeing/washing features.
These allow subtle washes of colours to be applied to the entire screen and can be of great benefit to those suffering from Photophobia or visual disorders caused by stroke.
You can download free trials of this software from the manufacturers' websites:
There is also a free magnifier available which has some rudimentary glare-reducing features:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.