How to Avoid Digital Eye Strain When You WFH
As more of us work from home these days and connect with coworkers via Zoom and other technologies, we can actually impact the health of our eyes from overuse without knowing it. In fact, digital eye strain, which looks like tired eyes, headaches and eye strain, affects 81 percent of adults. Ophthalmologist Joseph J. Pizzimenti, OD, FAAO and medical advisor for EyePromise shares his tips for avoiding some telltale symptoms.
"Prolonged screen time can cause tired eyes, poor focus while reading, dry eyes, heavy lids, blurry vision and neck strain," he says. And this goes for anyone with glasses, contact lenses or none at all. "These symptoms are associated with computer vision syndrome, which is caused by the strain on the eyes after prolonged use of a digital device." Too much screen time, especially at night, can mess with our sleep too. Here's how to give your eyes a digital break.
- Set up an ideal work environment. Now that we're all working from home it's a good idea to check in with our work setup, like having an ergonomic desk setup, natural light, and a comfortable chair. Dr. Pizzimenti says to also make sure your screen is about 20-28 inches away, slightly below eye level, and in a position where you'll avoid glare from overhead lighting and windows.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. "This gives the eyes and visual system a much-needed break and prevents fatigue," says Dr. Pizzimenti. Bathroom and snack breaks count in the mix!
- Adjust the color temp on your screen settings. Reduce the amount of "blue" color emitted from your screen, especially if you work at night. The blue light on our screens can trick our bodies into thinking it's daytime and keep us awake. On a Mac you can switch to Night Shift to get a warmer light. Dr. Pizzimenti also advises to stay away from screens and devices at least 1 hour before bed.
- Try natural supplements and blue light glasses. "Blue light emitted from screens, LEDs, etc. is typically not intense enough to damage the eyes, but prolonged and frequent exposure may result in digital eye strain," says Dr. Pizzimenti. "Blue light from the sun is intense enough to actually damage various tissues that make up the eye, including the retina." To naturally protect against the negative effects of blue light, Dr. Pizzimenti prescribes supplements that contain sufficient amounts of zeaxanthin, lutein, and other antioxidants. (He suggests trying Screen Shield Pro and Screen Shield Teen.) Blue light glasses can also help avoid the long-term impact of screens on our eye health.
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.