How to Improve a Reading Experience on the Laptop

Read in a room with background light, not a dark room.
... Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Whether you're working on reports and projects or staying up late researching, you can use a few methods to help reduce eye strain while reading off your laptop screen. Changing your room's lighting and adjusting your screen settings can go a long way toward helping you spend more time on the computer without any negative long-term effects. In addition, taking occasional breaks is a simple but effective means of avoiding neck, back and shoulder pain.

1 Increase Font Size

No matter what program you are using to read, you can typically increase the size of the font or even the whole page. For example, if you are using an e-reader app, you can adjust its font size settings; if you're using a Web browser, you can adjust the font size by pressing the "Ctrl" and "+" keys together. A larger font size means less strain on your eyes as you try to read, which means you will be able to read for longer periods of time.

2 Change Screen Warmth and Brightness

If you're reading for long stretches of time, especially at night, a glaring white screen can quickly cause your eyes to hurt. If you find that your screen is too bright, reduce its brightness via the Settings panel from your Charms screen. Alternatively -- or additionally -- install a program like f.lux, Friendeye or RedshiftGUI that automatically changes the warmth or contrast of your screen, reducing strain on your eyes. When your screen is the only thing you're looking at for a while, it's important to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

3 Use External Lighting

If your laptop screen is your only source of light, your eyes can get tired much more quickly. Whenever possible, try to avoid staring at your screen in a dark room. Have some source of natural or artificial light to brighten the room you're in -- the brighter the better. Even if you only have something as simple as a desk lamp, that alone can provide a much better reading experience.

4 Take Breaks

Even with everything else in mind, staring at a screen for too long without breaks can still cause eye strain and headaches. Take a five-minute break every 20 or 30 minutes to look around and stare at objects other than your screen. To properly exercise your eyes, try to focus far away rather than up close; your eyes have been staring at a screen close up for a while, so give them more variety. As a bonus, this helps prevent back, shoulder and neck pain from developing, which can occur if you're staring at a screen for too long without moving or stretching.

Based in California, James Wright has been writing since 1998. Wright's articles have been published on various websites with a focus on technical fields such as computers and the Internet, and were also featured in a now-retired publication for an online artistic community. Wright studied English, journalism, politics and psychology at Riverside Community College.