March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Eye wellness on the job is more than just wearing safety goggles while performing manual labor. People who spend all day on the computer also need to take steps to keep their eyes healthy.
How can screens affect my eyes?
Our eyes often work harder when looking at a computer or digital screen than writing on paper. The letters on a screen are not as sharply defined as in print, and the glare on the screen may make viewing difficult. Also, because of the distance we generally sit from computer screens, which is somewhat unusual compared to many other objects, our eyes have to work harder to focus. Improper posture, or looking back and forth between a piece of paper and your monitor, can also be a factor. Finally, uncorrected vision can cause additional strain.
The group of eye-related problems associated with computers or other electronic devices is called Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Common symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. However, there are a number of things you can do to prevent or correct these issues.
How should I care for my eyes?
You should make sure to get a routine eye exam at least once a year. This will ensure your prescription is up to date and you’re not putting additional strain on your eyes from not seeing properly.
You should also take frequent breaks when using a computer. In addition to longer breaks – like during your lunch – you should also take several five-minute breaks throughout the day. When you take these breaks you should stand up, move around, and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck, and shoulders. This will help reduce tension and muscle fatigue. Also, you should regularly look away from your computer monitor to rest your eyes. The AOA recommends 20 seconds of looking into the distance for every 20 minutes looking at the screen.
You should also try to minimize glare. Use a screen glare filter if you can, and position your monitor so you don’t have to deal with glare from lights or windows. You should also close the blinds on your windows and replace your light bulbs with low-wattage ones, if possible.
If you wear contact lenses, you may find your eyes become dry and uncomfortable the more time you spend on a computer. You should try to blink as much as possible, since blinking keeps your eyes moist.
Special computer eyewear is also available. These glasses are customized to make viewing your monitor comfortable by optimizing your eyes’ focus based on how far you normally sit from a computer. CEENTA offers customized computer glasses for patients with an eyeglass prescription in any of our optical shops.
Even though March is almost over, eye health is a year-round concern. Following these steps can help keep your eyes healthy from 9 to 5 and beyond.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician.