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After working on the computer and being on video calls throughout the day, do your eyes feel more fatigued than ever? I know I am often more tired than I used to be when I could actually have face to face conversations with people. And it doesn’t seem to just be me. My friends and coworkers are all saying the same thing.
In a study conducted during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers sent a questionnaire to over 1000 participants about their computer use and eye strain (Ganne et al., 2020). They found that digital eye strain was highest among students taking online classes, followed by teachers teaching online. Additionally, eye strain was highest among those who were younger, had increased screen time, and poor habits of not taking breaks (Ganne et al., 2020).
Those of us working from home need to come up with strategies to give our eyes a break. It’s just as important as stretching or standing to combat back and neck problems from sitting for long periods of time. Here are some of the things that I use to help keep my eyes as refreshed as possible in the digital world of work.
Strategies to combat eye fatigue:
- 20/20/20 rule
Originally suggested by Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, the 20-20-20 rule was developed as a way to reduce digital eye strain as computers began the rise in popularity for work and home. With the onset of the pandemic, this rule gained new momentum as a recommendation for anyone staring at their computer screens for long periods of time. Essentially, the rule states that you should look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away. Well, I don’t work in a 20 foot long office, so I try to look out the window to get my distance in. I use Alexa as my timer to help make sure I remember to follow this rule.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the computer screen is eye level so you’re not craning your neck and that the brightness is set to a comfortable level.
2. Blue light blocking glasses
I have heard the recommendation to not look at screens anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before sleeping because it can disrupt the sleep patterns. However, the research is mixed on whether blue light actually contributes to digital eye strain. Personally, I have found fewer headaches and fatigue when I do wear my blue light blocking glasses. If you already wear glasses, it can now be added in to your lenses in many eye doctor’s offices.
3. Take breaks
Simply stepping away is a great strategy to give your eyes a break from the screen. In addition to the 20-20-20, make sure to step away from the screen multiple times throughout the day for extended periods of time. It’s easy to wake up and immediately grab our cell phones because they are right next to us. In order to remove the temptation of using my phone first thing in the day, I bought an actual alarm clock that I use. I try to be intentional about taking a lunch break where I’m outside away from technology whenever I can.
Other strategies to help combat eye fatigue include making sure the computer is at the right height and using a laptop stand if needed, making sure you have proper lighting in the room you are working in, and changing the brightness or glare on the display you are working on.
Whatever you do, practice being mindful of how you are feeling and take steps to care of yourself!
Ganne, P., Najeeb, S., Chaitanya, G., Sharma, A., & Krishnappa, N. C. (2020). Digital Eye Strain Epidemic amid COVID-19 Pandemic–A Cross-sectional Survey. Ophthalmic epidemiology, 1-8.