In today’s digital world, many people spend several hours a day using a computer. Activities such as work, school, artistic endeavors, socializing, researching that next fabulous vacation, and taking care of personal business like banking or shopping, all entail time spent in front of the glare of a computer screen. That can result in dry, red, irritated, strained eyes, which can cause fatigue, headaches, and even neck and back discomfort, blurred vision and more. When you love being online, whether for work or for play, physical symptoms of eyestrain can really put a damper on things.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, if you have been experiencing the symptoms listed above, you may be developing an increasingly common condition called Computer Vision Syndrome. Studies show prevalence figures as high as 90% for Americans who use a computer for more than three hours a day. According to Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, medical director at Clearview Eye and Laser in California, one in six patients exhibits signs of computer vision syndrome.
The expansion of the digital age in the 21st century has given us the ability to keep up with loved
ones from around the world, skip long lines at the DMV, and take care of business online and, in many cases, even earn our living from the comfort of a home-office by freelancing or working remotely. In fact, one recent study by Business Insider showed that by 2020, about 40% of people will be freelancing. Of course, all of that means a lot more computer time.
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy remedies to help protect your health and stay physically fit in the digital age. Simple back and neck exercises, a daily yoga practice, utilizing ergonomic furniture, and getting fitted for protective computer glasses are all great ways to take care of yourself and enjoy your computer time.
Here are some terrific guidelines for taking care of your eyes so that you can be comfortable and healthy, no matter how much time you spend online.
- Blink your eyes frequently to replenish tear film.
Invest in over-the-counter teardrop solutions to reduce dry eye symptoms.
- To alleviate dry eye syndrome, make sure your monitor isn’t too high because if you look up, you reduce the amount of evaporation in your tear ducts and you’re able to lubricate the eye a bit more.
- Buy a monitor that allows you to reduce glare and adjust the screen brightness level in different environments.
- Bigger is not always better. A 27-48 inch monitor or multiple monitors are not always the solution. They can create awkward neck and head postures along with dry eyes.
- Ergonomic experts advise that you keep a distance of at least an arms length between your eyes and your screen.
- Create healthy lighting conditions by using task lighting, and arrange your desk or chair so that you are not facing direct lighting.
- Avoid facing a window because it’s difficult for the eyes to adjust to outside brightness and the computer screen (opposite effect) and can result in weakening your vision.
Sit so that air from a fans, or vents, doesn’t come into direct contact with your eyes.
Take frequent breaks to rest your eyes. Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you to look away from your screen every 20 minutes, or so, for at least 20 seconds, and focus on something about 20 feet away; this is sometimes referred to as the “20-20-20 rule” for healthy best practices while working on a computer.
- Finally, give your entire body, mind, eyes and soul a rest by taking frequent breaks to do a few yoga stretches, take a short walk or refresh with eyes closed for 5-10 minutes a few times a day.
Social media is fun. Today more than ever, people get to do what they love, online, from
someplace (anyplace!) other than a corporate office. Even jobs that take place in a corporate environment are made easier by the use of computers. Life is generally more convenient, given our ability to take care of it (whatever “it” is) via the Internet.
As our world becomes more computer-centric, we are fortunate to reap the benefits and rewards of the wonders of the World Wide Web. As with anything, we sometimes need to adjust our lifestyle. It’s really just a matter of adopting some work tools, like the right furniture, computer screen, or prescription eyewear, and making a few lifestyle and habit adjustments. To your health!
Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.