We spend so much of our time these days looking at computer screens. Ten years ago, 45% of adults in the UK used a computer every day. Today, whether it’s mastering an Excel spreadsheet at work, checking your latest Twitter updates or doing some online shopping, 72% of Britons are using a computer every single day.
This change in behaviour is certain to take a toll on your eyes. Some of you may have already suffered from computer vision syndrome (CVS). CVS damages your productivity and your body, causing tiredness, eye strain, redness, irritation or dryness, a burning feeling in the eyes, blurred or double vision after computer use, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. It is thought that 64-90% of office workers have been affected by CVS at some point.
But since work still needs doing, candies still need crushing, and tweets still need tweeting, we can’t just abandon our screens. We understand this, so here’s a list of useful things you can do to look after your eyes in our screen-focused world.
1. Lighting & glare
Eye strain is often caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. Many computer users find their eyes feel better if they can avoid working under overhead fluorescent lights. If possible, turn off the overhead fluorescent lights in your office and use floor lamps that provide indirect incandescent or halogen lighting instead.
Sometimes switching to “full spectrum” fluorescent lighting that more closely approximates the light spectrum emitted by sunlight can be more comforting for computer work than regular fluorescent tubes. But even full spectrum lighting can cause discomfort if it’s too bright.
2. Adjust your computer display settings
Balancing your brightness and contrast to lower levels makes things much easier on the eyes. Staring at bright, contrasting colours for extended periods of time can cause your eyes to ache and strain.
3. Text size and colour
Eye strain can be a symptom of myopia, as well as CVS. If you are having trouble reading text documents or web pages, consider increasing the size of the text. For prolonged periods of work, increasing the size of words makes it easier and faster for the brain to interpret them, reducing the time you’ll spend looking at words.
4. Blink more often
Tired eyes, itchiness and dryness can all be attributed to not blinking enough. Studies have shown that people blink 66% less when using a computer. That’s 66% less lubrication than your eyes need.
5. Take frequent breaks
Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
6. Get your eyes tested
If you’re experiencing eye strain, headaches or problems with your vision, consider getting an eye test. While not always the cause of such problems, at the very least you can eliminate your eyes from the list of possible problems. And if it is your eyes, we’re here to help.