More and more people are working from home in an effort to practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. For many, having all meetings and communications via computer, tablet or phone is a huge change. Not only does it take some time to get used to the various apps and tools, it also takes time to adjust to staring at a screen all day, which often leads to digital eye strain. To help you keep your eyes feeling fresh and comfortable, the team at the Spectacle Shoppe is sharing some of our tips for avoiding digital eye strain.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
First, let’s have a quick refresher on what exactly digital eye strain is. Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome, refers to a group of eye and vision issues that come from staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time, whether it’s the screen of your phone, tablet, e-reader or computer.
The most common symptoms of digital eye strain are:
- Tired, sore eyes
Burning or itching eyes
Blurry or double vision
Neck, shoulder or back aches
Increased sensitivity to light
Difficulty keeping your eyes open
These symptoms can be caused or exacerbated by the glare from your screen, bad lighting, poor posture, incorrect viewing distance, vision problems that haven’t been addressed and corrected, or a combination of several of these factors. The severity of digital eye strain tends to worsen based on how long you look at a screen.
Tips for Avoiding Digital Eye Strain
Thankfully, most of the symptoms of digital eye strain are temporary and will go away once you’ve stepped away from your device for a while. However, you can’t always avoid looking at a screen, especially if you’re working from home and doing everything virtually for the time being. The good news is, there are a number of things you can do to reduce eye strain at home and keep yourself more comfortable:
- Position your computer screen about 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. Most people find it more comfortable to view a screen if they’re looking downward.
- Hold or place your devices so that you’re not getting a glare from the light sources in the room. You might want to use lower wattage light bulbs or draw your blinds or curtains if it’s really sunny out. If you can’t get rid of the glare from the light sources, an anti-glare filter on your screen can be helpful.
- If you have a desktop computer, try to put reference documents below the monitor but above the keyboard. If you have a laptop or you’re unable to do that, put them on a document holder right next to the screen so that you don’t need to keep moving your head from document to screen.
- Sit with proper posture and embrace home office ergonomics. When in your chair, your feet should be flat on the floor. For chairs with arms, position the arms so that they support you while you’re typing and your wrists aren’t resting on the computer’s keyboard.
- Blink! Believe it or not, when we’re staring at a screen, we blink a lot less. This leads to dry eyes and irritation. So, blink frequently. You might have to remind yourself and make an effort to do it.
- Take frequent breaks. Get up and move around every so often and give yourself a change of scenery. If possible, get outside for a few minutes here and there throughout your day even if it’s just briefly on your balcony or porch.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away in the distance for 20 seconds. This helps the eyes refocus and reset. Set a timer on your phone if you need to.
- Invest in computer glasses. At our Kerrisdale eyewear store, we offer computer progressive lenses, as well as blue-light blocking lenses, both of which decrease digital eye strain and protect the eyes from the harmful effects of blue light. Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, you can still benefit from the lenses and your eyes will be more comfortable.
We hope everyone is hanging in there and we also hope these tips help you avoid eye strain while working from home. To help with social distancing, we’re currently open by appointment only Tuesdays through Friday. You can call us at (604) 263-2628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to order glasses or contacts or for pick-up.