For many of us in the working world, excessively looking at our screens is a way of life.
Whether it’s a morning full of Zoom meetings or a buried-in-Google-Sheets afternoon, today’s workforce relies on screens for nearly every aspect of doing business—and let's not forget personal screen time, too!
All that screen time can be tiring. Being on the computer constantly can lead to headaches, trigger migraines, or leave you feeling burned out.
According to the Optometrists Network, Digital Eye Strain (DES) affects over 50 percent of children and adults and can lead to symptoms like dry eyes, painful eyes, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain.
Screens aren't going anywhere, but there are things you can do to resist the effects of harsh, high-energy emitting screen light and prevent computer eye strain.
Here are 4 tips for keeping your eyes healthy throughout your workday.
1. Take breaks
Every break you take from looking at your screen is a mini-rest for your eyes — don’t be afraid to go so far as scheduling breaks on your e-calendar to give them the rest they need.
Stepping away from your computer and phone to make a snack, get some fresh air, or re-up on water and coffee can boost productivity. If you let your body relieve itself of any tension you’re holding on to, you’ll be better prepared to focus on the work you need to get done when you return to your desk.
2. Perform eye exercises
If you want to get strong, you’ve got to train for it, and that includes your eyes, too. Practicing focusing (and unfocusing) your eyes teaches them to release tension during days of heavy screen usage and strengthens your distance vision as well.
The University of Rochester recommends looking away from your screen for about 2 minutes every 15 minutes. Focus lightly on something across the room (not your phone!) and let your eyes wander a bit. If you can set your desk up near a window, the extra burst of sunlight is a nice and healthy bonus!
Another way to build mini-breaks for your eyes is to blink more often than you usually do. Every time you blink, you restore moisture to your eyes, keeping them lubricated and healthy. (You’d also be surprised how often we forget to blink when we’re staring at screens.) For extra hydration, you can also keep a bottle of eye drops nearby.
3. Invest in Protective Eyewear
Even if you’re not currently experiencing symptoms of computer eye strain, investing in a high-quality pair of blue and green-blocking glasses can be a great preventative measure to protect your eyes’ health. Getting ahead of the downstream effects of blue light exposure before it becomes a problem is highly recommended.
SafetyBlue™ glasses help wearers combat eye strain, improve sleep quality, and combat the degenerative effects of too much screen time. Stylish options are available for day and night, including fit-over options for prescription glasses-wearers!
4. “Biohack” your computer settings
Setting your computer up strategically can also help prevent eye strain and stay productive. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), adjusting the brightness of your screen to match the light level around you and increasing the contrast on your device is gentler on your eyes.
f.lux is a wonderful free option to effortlessly fix screens to make the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night, and like sunlight during the day.
It's possible that you're staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better.
To help with neck and back pain and relieve tension, the AAO recommends sitting at least 25 inches away from your computer screen and adjusting its height, so you aren’t looking up or down at it.
Eye strain is a common problem affecting many of us today, but making a few small changes to your workday (aka biohacking) can make a huge difference.
Take a deep breath, set yourself up for success, and let your eyes relax—you deserve it!