With so many digital devices at our fingertips, we're constantly staring at a screens at home and at work. If you work in an office, you're probably spending most of your day looking at a computer monitor. Extended periods of time staring at smartphones, TV and computer screens can be harmful to your eyes. Here are seven ways to alleviate strain on your eyes when you're at work.
According to a survey from PersonalEYES, 50 per cent of Australian adults have cut down on their time with digital screens in the last 12 months to improve their vision. Around 55 per cent believed that watching TV or using iPads, laptops or PCs for a couple of hours every day can damage eye sight. PersonalEyes has seven tips to combat eye strain in the workplace:
#1 Check position of computer monitor
Ensure you have your desks set up with a screen slightly below eye level, and that it is between 50-100 cm from your eyes. If your organisation is reliant on document transcribing, or employees are constantly referring to documents on their desk and then going back to their screen, it’s a good idea to consider a vertical document holder that can be attached to the computer screen to ensure documents are at eye level.
#2 Set default text size and monitor brightness levels
Talk to your IT department about enlarging text size on your computer as standard or do it yourself if you know how to. The brightness and contrast levels on your computer should be adjusted according to office lighting levels of 300-500 lux and you should get your employer to assess workplace lighting to make sure employees aren't affected by glare, as this will contribute to eye strain.
#3 Assess workspace lighting and have some anti-glare screen filters on hand
You should be mindful of light sources in the workplace to ensure the amount of glare is as little as it can possibly be. This should be something your employer check regularly. It's not just about assessing direct sources of light but more about assessing each individual workspace. Employees must not have bright light in their field of vision when in their workspace, and similarly, they must not have any bright light behind them that could bounce onto the computer monitor. If all steps are taken to minimise glare and the problem still persists, an anti-glare screen filter could be the answer, and they have come a long way since the micromesh ones from the 90s and 00s. The best ones available on the market today are made from optical glass of the highest quality and can reduce glare by more than 99 per cent. Furthermore, your workplace could also look for low-reflective or matte screens when purchasing new monitors.
#4 Take screen breaks
Some businesses are heavily reliant on computer time and you should take a break from your screen for two to three minutes every 30 minutes and 10-15 minutes every two to three hours. PersonalEYES recommends the 20-20-10 rule to minimise vision deterioration; give your eyes a break from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds by looking at something 10 metres away.
#5 Reminder poster on the notice board
A poster on the notice board or around the water cooler means you’re doing your due diligence in reminding yourself and other employees about the 20-20-10 rule and taking eye breaks to avoid eye strain and CVS.
#6 Use eye drops
Anyone sitting behind a computer screen for more than three hours should be making sure their eyes are lubricated. When you’re looking at a screen, you tend to blind much less frequently, which means your eyes are less lubricated and could become irritated. Many people with watery eyes actually have dry eye syndrome and dismiss the use of eye drops since they feel their eyes are lubricated. It’s best that you don't share eye drops to avoid the spread of an infection or conjunctivitis and we recommend avoiding drops in a reusable bottle, instead opting for single-use, preservative-free lubricating eye drops.
#7 Watch use of air conditioner and heaters
Air conditioners and heaters can dry out the air, and dry eye sufferers could experience worsened symptoms as a result. If your organisation requires constant use of this, a humidifier with a HEPA filter could be a good investment, since it hydrates the air and kills bacteria, improving the climate for employees.