At one time or another, most of us have dealt with the symptoms of eye strain. From the splitting headaches, the blurred vision, and the shoulder tension, it’s something that nearly 90% of people who work with computers deal with. However, with the growing popularity of mobile devices, eye strain is no longer centralized to just the work place; children and teenagers have also begun to experience some symptoms.
But what exactly is eye strain?
In essence, eye strain is the umbrella-term used for a collection of symptoms that occur from the overuse and exhaustion of your eyes. One of the more common reasons why our eyes become exhausted is because the light emitting from your computer monitor (or mobile device) is competing with another light source around you like overhead lights and/or sunlight from a window.
Eventually, this contrast between light sources causes the images on your screen to fade. In an effort to compensate for this loss of resolution, we unconsciously force/strain our eyes to focus on the screen more, which leads to many of the symptoms of eye strain such as:
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Back and shoulder tension
- Sore, tired, and/or dry eyes
It often becomes a vicious cycle because these symptoms of eye strain impede your ability to see a screen clearly, which causes you to strain further in an effort to continue reading…which just exacerbates the symptoms. This effects the quality of your work and can sometimes be the cause of serious stress – the consequences of which extend far beyond the workplace.
So what can you do if you experience eye strain? Well, the key lies in prevention.
So here are some tips on how to prevent eye strain.
#1. Improve The Quality and Placement of Your Lighting
Try to avoid using your computer for long periods of time in overhead, fluorescent lighting. Despite being favored by the majority of office complexes everywhere, overhead fluorescent lights can create a lot of contrast and glare for our eyes to deal with while they are focusing on a computer monitor, which greatly contributes to eye strain.
If you can, have the main light source in your workplace be natural light. The natural light source needs to be perpendicular to your computer screen and at such an angle so as to not create glare; this is one of the better set ups to prevent eye strain.
Sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how seldom we blink during moments of extreme concentration. Blinking our eyes helps keep them moisturized, which is essential to our eye health and to prevent eye strain. The average person may blink roughly 18 times per minute; however, if that person is concentrating on a computer screen or digital device, they may blink half as much.
Now, if you are staring into a light source (such as a computer monitor or mobile device) without blinking for several hours of the day, it’s almost like staring directly at a light bulb, except the adverse effects are gradually spread out over time.
#3. Get Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Recent studies are showing us the omega-3 fatty acids can be essential for our health, including our eyes. Having a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids helps combat dry eyes, which then in turn may help prevent eye strain symptoms. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can potentially help support cardiovascular and cognitive health as well
Now, omega-3s can be found in a variety foods like flaxseeds and cold-water fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. However, it can be hard to get the benefits of omega-3s if you don’t particularly like any of these foods. That’s why an omega-3 fish oil supplement is a quick and convenient alternative.
#4. The 20-20-20 Rule
One of the best things you can do to prevent eye strain is to simply look away from the screen and give your eyes a break. That’s where the 20-20-20 rules comes in.
Basically, every 20 min look 20 ft. away from your screen for 20 seconds. This method gives your eyes a chance to revitalize and readjust their focus on something far away, which can prevent eye strain.
#5. Don’t Sit Too Close To Your Screen
To reduce the stress on your eyes, it’s recommended that you keep your computer monitor 18 to 30 inches away from your eyes to help prevent eye strain.
If you don’t feel like getting out the measuring tape, a good rule of thumb is that the distance between your monitor and your eyes should be the length of your arm (shoulder to fingertip). So sit normally in your chair and extend your arm out. If your hand is hitting your monitor it may be too close and should be moved back.
You’re never alone in battling to prevent eye strain! Be sure to retweet/share these quick and easy tips.