Jeepers Creepers, Protect Those Peepers!
At some point during the late 1980s or early 1990s — I forget the exact year — someone bought a small, beige, plastic box into the office I was working in and placed it on my desk. I immediately began using it to write articles and other documents that appeared almost magically on a tiny TV screen housed in the box.
Several years later, a different version of the box appeared on my desk with a cord that connected to a phone line. With it, I was able to send and receive emails and view something called the World Wide Web.
Shortly after that, I had to buy my first pair of glasses.
Effect of the Computer Revolution
In the 30 or so years since that first beige box appeared on my desk, my working life, like most people’s, has changed dramatically. I seem to spend more and more time each day in front of my monitor. So, it came as no surprise to learn a recent survey estimates we now spend almost six and a half hours a day sitting at our work computers or laptops.
That’s a whopping 1,700 hours a year — not counting the screen time we spend on our phones, TVs, or our personal computers outside of work. That’s the potential for a lot of eye strain and headaches.
Tips to Ward Off Eye Strain
Here are a few tips to help you get through your workday and put off an expensive trip to the optometrist for as long as possible:
- Create an ergonomic workspace: First, make sure your monitor is the right distance away from you and at the right height. As a rule of thumb, the screen should be about an arm’s length away and level with your eyes, so adjust your chair and desktop accordingly. Use a document holder to place any print materials you need to consult in a comfortable place in front, or at the side, of your screen if needed.
- Adjust ambient lighting to avoid screen glare: Fluorescent light or sunlight above or behind your head can create glare on the screen, forcing you to squint and strain. Turn off overhead lights, close blinds, and reposition your monitor so it isn’t in front of a window or a wall that has been painted white or a light color. If you need to illuminate your workspace, use a desk lamp. If you still encounter screen glare after making these changes, consider changing your display settings or using an antiglare filter on your monitor.
- Keep your eyes moist: If you find your eyes get dry after spending time in front of your monitor, refresh them by blinking frequently or using an artificial tears product.
- Take frequent breaks: Give your eyes a rest throughout the day. One optometrist recommends you follow the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look away from your monitor and focus on an object 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
- Make sure your eyewear is up to date and up to the job: If you wear glasses or contacts, discuss your work habits with your optometrist. They may recommend a change in your prescription or special tints or coats to your existing eyewear that will reduce eye strain at work.
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