This past year has seen a lot of us spending more and more time in front of a computer screen, and with the increase in home working it doesn’t seem as though that’s likely to change any time soon.What does spending more time looking at a screen mean for our eyes? And how can we make sure that we’re looking after them?
Does looking at a computer damage your eyes?
We’ve all been told since we were children that looking at a screen for too long will ‘make your eyes go square.’ Now, obviously, we all know that this can’t happen! However, is there any merit to the idea that frequent screen use is damaging to our eye health?
If you are working on a computer frequently, then it is possible to cause eye strain by not paying close attention to your working conditions. For example, working too long without a break is a contributing factor to eye strain.Other causes are glare, caused by having the screen brightness too high or from having sunlight reflecting off of your screen, and the positioning of your screen. Our eyes expect to look straight ahead and slightly down, so if the screen isn’t in this position, we can experience eye strain.We also blink less frequently when we use a computer, which can make our eyes dry and sore.
Overall, studies have shown that frequent use of screens doesn’t cause long-term damage to the eyes, but it can cause irritating problems such as eye strain. It’s possible to prevent these issues by taking measures when arranging your working environment.
Glasses and safe computer working
A lot of us wear glasses for conditions like short-sightedness, but increasingly people are beginning to wear glasses specifically for working on the computer.The idea behind computer glasses is that they help to minimize the glare that comes off of the screen, as well as protecting your eyes from the blue light that is emitted from digital devices.Wearing specialised computer glasses is believed to be a helpful measure against eye strain and the headaches that sometimes come with using the computer.
There is also an argument that computer glasses could help to improve your sleep. It’s believed that the blue light emitted by digital devices blocks melatonin, which is the hormone the body releases throughout the day to prepare the body for sleep. If melatonin production is interrupted, it can mean that we struggle to sleep. By wearing blue light blocking glasses, melatonin production continues as normal and we can sleep more easily, the theory goes.
If you are interested in finding out more about blue light blocking glasses for the computer, then speak with your optician or visit Just-glasses.co.uk for more information.
How to protect against eye strain
If you would like to ensure optimal eye health and prevent eye strain, then one of the most effective things that you can do is carefully arrange your working day with eye health in mind.
Some helpful things to think about while you are working with a screen are:
- Apply the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a rest and helps to prevent eye strain. If you find that you get quite lost in your work and would struggle to remember to take regular breaks, it’s a good idea to download a timer app, which will pop up and remind you periodically.
- Focusing on a screen may make you blink less, which can make your eyes dry and uncomfortable. Try to remember to blink regularly, as this will help to prevent dry eyes.
- Position your screen in a way that is comfortable for your eyes. Ideally, your screen should be between 40 and 76 centimetres (16 to 30 inches) away from your eyes. The top of it should be level with your natural eye-line (you can use a monitor riser to help with this) and it should also be tilted slightly away from you using a 10 or 20 degree angle. You may need to adjust your chair to get your monitor in the right position, and if you do this, be sure that the position is still optimal for protecting your back. Finally, it’s important to position your screen so that it isn’t reflecting any glare from windows or lighting.
Once you have your screen in the correct position, you can also adjust the font size so that it’s easier for you to read, as this will help to prevent eye strain.
If you are working from documents, it can be helpful to use document holders to keep your documents level with your screen. This means that your eyes won’t have to work too hard switching focus between the screen and the documents.