Over the past two years, we have all been spending a lot more time at home. Due to the coronavirus, many of us have had the opportunity to work from home. But while many of us have taken advantage of its benefits, working remotely isn’t always a positive thing.
Many studies show that working from home improves productivity due to the lack of distractions in an office. But the increased focus on our work means we are all spending more time staring at screens and straining our eyes.
We’ve rounded up these three ways to help you reduce eye strain when working from home and improve your eye health. These methods will help you maintain your vision, but they can also increase your productivity and well-being.
Symptoms of eye strain
Being able to recognize the symptoms of eye strain is crucial. While there are no proven long-term consequences of eye strain, continued exposure to blue light – the short-wave, high-energy light emitted by screens – could lead to retinal damage.
Problems caused by screens fall under an umbrella term Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and its symptoms include:
- Sore, itchy eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurry vision (sometimes double vision)
- Headaches and migraines
- Pain in the back, shoulders and neck
- Difficulty concentrating
- Struggling to keep my eyes open
- Increased sensitivity to light.
While the main cause of eye strain while working from home is usually staring at the screen of a digital device, other reasons include:
- Do not rest your eyes while reading
- Drive long distances without a break
- Exposure to bright lights
- Strive to see in the dark
- Stress and fatigue
- Central heating, fans and air conditioning
- Underlying eye problems.
How to reduce eye strain when working from home
1. Take an eye test
One of the major causes of eye strain is underlying eye problems like uncorrected vision. If you start to experience any of the symptoms of eye strain, you should see an optician for an eye exam.
Your optician will be able to detect any underlying problems with your vision and prescribe glasses that can relieve the symptoms of eye strain and help with concentration. If you are buying prescription glasses, it is essential that you choose a pair of glasses that you like enough to wear. If you choose a pair that you don’t like, you probably won’t wear them the way you should.
There is a huge range of eyewear available, from standard frames to designer eyewear, so there’s bound to be a pair of eyewear that’s right for you. And, if glasses don’t tickle your fancy, there are always contact lenses.
2. Monitor your screen time
Prolonged use of computers and digital devices is one of the most important causes of eye strain. Screens tire our eyes more than printed documents because:
- People are sitting too close or too far from their screens
- Devices have reflections and reflections
- People blink less when using computers
- Poor contrast between the text and the background.
Working from home has allowed many people to have more flexibility in their working hours. This flexibility means you can take the time to rest your eyes while you work.
Typically, every 20 minutes that you are looking at a screen, you should be looking away for 20 seconds and looking at something 20 feet away. It’s the 20/20/20 rule, and while it’s easy to forget when you’re in the middle of something, it’s a simple way to reduce eye strain. Exercise helps relax the muscles in your eyes and is a bit like resetting your eyes. Not only will it help reduce the fatigue on your eyes from the screen, but it can also increase your concentration. Not bad for a 20 second break, eh?
Along with the 20/20/20 rule, you can also exercise your eyes by doing eye yoga (yes, that’s a thing!). Eye yoga involves shifting focus, controlling eye rolling, and palming to help your eyes relax and recover from excessive screen use.
Here are other ways to reduce eye strain when using a computer at work:
- Position your screen in front of you at arm’s length
- Make sure the top of your screen is at eye level
- Adjust your screen settings to make text larger and adjust contrast and brightness.
3. Take regular breaks
While the 20/20/20 rule is something you should follow, you should also take regular, longer breaks. These don’t need to be stretched out, but taking a little time will help your eye muscles relax.
Plus, the benefits of taking regular breaks go beyond eye health; they can also:
- Improve your memory
- Give you a boost of energy
- Reduce stress
- Boost creativity, productivity and performance
- Improve your mental and physical health.
When taking a break, do your best to avoid staring at other screens such as your phone. It’s tempting to catch up on social media and email during a break, but that won’t give your eyes the time they need to relax. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas on what to do on your break, take a walk or catch up with your favorite podcast.