Next month is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, an ideal time to discuss one of the most common work-related eye problems: Digital Eye Strain.
In this blog, Stephen Wolchok, MD of Wolchok Eye Associates, PA in Jacksonville, Florida, explains digital eye strain symptoms and preventive measures.
Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, affects 75% of the people who work on computers, most predominantly those over age 40.
Common symptoms are:
- Dry eyes
- Eye pain
- Tired eyes
- Blurry vision
- Burning, irritated eyes
- Excessive tearing
Avoid digital eye strain by following these ten tips:
Remember to blink
On average, people blink about 15 times a minute. But when they’re looking at a computer screen, they reduce their blinking by one-third to one-half of the average amount.
Blinking is important because it spreads a layer of tears that lubricate your eyes. When you don’t blink often enough, your eyes become dry, which causes eye strain.
You can solve this problem by taking a break every 20 minutes and very slowly blinking ten times to lubricate your eyes.
Relax your eye muscles
Another cause of digital eye strain is focusing fatigue. This condition occurs when your eyes are focused on the same distance for an extended time, causing eye muscles to tighten or spasm.
You can prevent this problem by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer and focus on an object that’s at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. Focusing on a distant object relaxes the muscles inside your eye and prevents eye strain.
Give your eyes a break.
You’re probably aware that sitting for a long time is terrible for your back and your cardiovascular health, which is why doctors recommend standing, stretching, or walking for a short time every 30 or 60 minutes.
The same principle applies to your eyes. Taking at least six short breaks from your computer throughout your workday significantly reduces your risk for digital eye strain.
Minimize glare from the computer screen
Glare contributes to digital eye strain. Be sure that light from a desk lamp, ceiling light, or sunlight through the window doesn’t reflect your computer screen. If you can’t reduce glare by changing the location of your computer, moving the lamp, or covering the windows, consider installing an anti-glare screen or using a computer hood.
If you wear glasses, talk with us about lenses with an anti-reflective (AR) coating.
Go for mood lighting
The light in your environment should be about half as bright as the lighting found in most offices. Depending on where you work, you may be able to close the drapes, use fewer light bulbs, or lower the intensity of the bulbs used in office lights.
Many patients find that their eyes are sensitive to overhead fluorescent lights. Turning off the overhead light may not be possible in the office, but you might be able to reduce the number of fluorescent tubes directly above your computer.
Upgrade your monitor
Your risk for digital eye strain goes down when you have a high-resolution monitor with a large display. If possible, use a screen that’s at least 19 inches when measured diagonally.
Check your display settings
Your eyes work harder when the screen is brighter than the surrounding light, and the text is too small, so you can prevent eye strain by making the brightness the same as your environment and enlarging the text size. It also helps to adjust the color temperature to warm, yellowish hues when your environment is dark and cold, bluish hues in brightly-lit rooms.
Practice good ergonomics
The layout of your workstation contributes to digital eye strain because your eyes work harder when the screen is too far away or too close. Your monitor should be 20-28 inches away from your eyes. Additionally, the center of your screen should be about 10-15 degrees below your eyes to prevent eye and neck strain.
Consider computer eyeglasses
Some patients who don’t usually wear eyeglasses can reduce their digital eye strain with glasses designed for computer use. On the flip side, if you already wear glasses, your current prescription may not be best for viewing a computer.
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam
You’re more likely to develop digital eye strain when you have vision problems that aren’t properly corrected and eye conditions that haven’t been diagnosed or treated. Another concern is that the symptoms of digital eye strain can be signs of many possible eye problems.
If you have the symptoms of digital eye strain that don’t get better when you follow these tips, protect your eyes by scheduling a visit with Dr. Wolchok today and explore your options. You can reach our Jacksonville, Florida office at 904-739-0606 or through our online portal.