If you're reading this story, chances are you spend a lot of your time in front of a computer--up to 8 or more hours a day if you're like many office workers. That's a problem, because all that screen time is likely wreaking irreparable havoc on your overworked eyeballs, according to eye-health experts.

Long hours in front of a computer screen can cause a number of unpleasant visual symptoms, including itchy or dry eyes, headaches, blurry vision, eye redness, or eye aches. Any one of those symptoms indicates significant eyestrain, says Cammie Menendez, Ph.D., an epidemiologist from the University of Texas-Houston. (Speaking of aches, if any part of your body is in pain, click here to find out The Real Reason You're Hurting.)

So what? Years of eyestrain could lead to scarring of the cornea, chronic vision-related headaches, or even partial loss of vision, explains Clayton Blehm, M.D., an ophthalmologist and UT-Houston grad who has published research on "computer vision syndrome."

Follow these steps to protect your peepers now and prevent vision loss later.

Adjust the height of your monitor so the center of your computer screen rests an inch or two below the level of your eyes when you're sitting up straight, Blehm recommends. This will reduce stress on your eyes and limit the surface area of your cornea exposed to the computer screen. (Here are 17 Problems You Can Fix Right Now.)

Dim the lights, reduce the glare. Too much bright light or glare around your computer screen forces you to crank up the screen's brightness, which puts more strain on your eyes, Blehm says. Move your computer out from under direct overhead light sources and away from bright windows. Turn the brightness on your screen down as far as you can without it seeming uncomfortably dim, Menendez adds.

Take short breaks every 15 minutes or whenever your eyes feel tired, Blehm urges. You don't have to leave your desk--just focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away for 10 seconds to help your eye muscles relax, he says. (Check out the Online Eye Chart to see what impaired vision can look like.)

Blink often to keep your eyeballs well lubricated, Blehm advises. He also recommends taking an omega-3 supplement, which will increase the quality of your eye's lipid layer, and eye drops that include both a lipid and an aqueous layer of protection like Alcon's Systane Balance. (drugstore.com; $13)

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