Eyes on the Prize: How a Software QA Tester can Avoid Eye Strain and Headaches

Software QA testers work all day at computer screens, which makes it hard to avoid eye strain. Our post shows how a few small changes can really help.

Staring at screens for up to 8 hours per day is normal in our jobs. When we are not using our screens for QA testing and developing software, we can’t help but stare at our phones and other devices.

How to avoid eye strain and headaches as a software QA tester

Symptoms of Eye Strain

It’s difficult to avoid eye strain entirely, and it’s no surprise that because of the way we work in the digital industry, QA and software developers experience many of its symptoms.

These can symptoms include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Sore and itching eyes
  • Headaches
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating

While eye strain doesn’t typically have any long-term or severe consequences, it can be unpleasant and very frustrating, and over time it can harm your ability to concentrate and do a good job.

Causes of Eye Strain

I mentioned that our screen time habits are a big cause of eye strain, resulting in headaches and other symptoms. However, there are other reasons why you may experience eye strain. These include:

  • Being exposed to bright lights or glare
  • Straining to see in low or dim light
  • Reading for long periods without pausing to rest
  • Failing to blink while reading or completing tasks
  • Desktop fans or air conditioning drying the eyes

These symptoms brought on and exacerbated by the following:

  • Stress and fatigue
  • Poor posture
  • The setup of your computer or workstation

5 Steps to Beat Eye Strain

There are several things you can do to improve the situation if you suffer from any of the above eye strain symptoms.

1. Be Mindful of your Working Position

Are you hunched over, with poor posture, intensely focussing on your screen for long periods? Perhaps it’s time to take a minute or two to relax your shoulders and neck, close your eyes (blinking moistures your dry eyes), and take a break. It’s easy to become entirely absorbed by the task at hand and to allow your body to stiffen unwittingly. Take a moment to reflect on how you sit and work, and see if this could be the cause or contributor to your eye strain and headaches.

2. Review your Office Lighting

Is the lighting in your office too bright, causing glare on your screen? Is your screen positioned by a window, and sunlight reflects in your eyes? Or is your office too dark and dingy, and you need to squint and adjust your focus to see? Perhaps you’re working late, and the brightness of the screen is glaring in the darkness of the room? If so, consider altering your screen or application to dark mode to combat this.

3. Check your Work Station

Does your chair provide enough support for your back and shoulders? Is your desk too high or too low, making you hunch over or stretch? Is the monitor too close, too far, or too high? All these factors can contribute to headaches, eye strain, and other symptoms that regularly affect QA testers and software developers. A new chair or a simple adjustment to your screens might be all that’s needed.

4. Review your workloads

As mentioned previously, stress and fatigue can make eye strain and headaches worse, so take a moment to reflect on how you are dealing with your current workload. Are you stressing out over deadlines, or going through a particularly tricky patch on a project? Chat with your manager or team leader to see if they can help – you’re no good to anyone if you’re stressed out, tired, and unable to concentrate.

5. Give your eyes a break

Sit away from the screen for 15 minutes during the day to give your eyes a rest. Choose a darkened room or somewhere you can close your eyes, which will probably relax your neck and shoulders too. Eye strain and headaches will likely feel much better after a short break of this kind.

You can also give your eyes a break while still at your desk by shifting your focus. We spend most of our days staring at a screen just 18 inches from our eyes, which struggle with maintaining such a shallow focus. It is helpful to look away from your screen every 20 minutes to gaze around the room. Flex your eye muscles by focusing on nearby objects, then look across to things at the other side of the room. Next, look out of the window if you can, to focus on things that are far away from you. Getting into the habit of looking away from the screen to focus on objects at varying distances will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce eye strain and headaches.

Important to Note

It is essential to consult a doctor if your symptoms feel more severe or prolonged than those mentioned in this article. There may be underlying health conditions that are causing your problems, of which you are unaware.

Will Saunders
Author

Will Saunders

Will Saunders is a graphic designer with over 10 years experience in digital design and working alongside software development teams. His many roles have included creative director, user interface designer, illustrator, and various other positions that have contributed to the wealth of experience he draws upon when writing for SoftwareTester.Careers. He is the founder of Good Will Studios, an ethical design company created to help organisations with a social mission achieve their goals and make a positive impact in the world.

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