For the last two years, we’ve all been spending a lot more time at home. Due to coronavirus, many of us have had the opportunity to work from home. But while many of us have enjoyed its benefits, remote working is not all positive.
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 has meant that we’re all spending more time staring at screens and straining our eyes.
We’ve put together these three ways to help you reduce eye strain while working from home and improve your eye health. These methods will help maintain your vision, but they can also boost your productivity and wellbeing.
Symptoms Of Eye Strain
Being able to recognise the symptoms of eye strain is crucial. Although there are no proven long-term consequences of eye strain, continued exposure to blue light — the shortwave, high energy light that screens emit — could lead to retinal damage.
The problems that screens cause fall under a catch-all term computer vision syndrome (CVS), and its symptoms include:
- Sore and itchy eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurry visions (sometimes double vision)
- Headaches and migraines
- Soreness in back, shoulders and neck
- Difficulty concentrating
- Struggling to keep your eyes open
- Increased sensitivity to light.
Although the leading cause of eye strain while working from home is usually looking at a digital device screen, other reasons include:
- Not resting your eyes while reading
- Driving for long distances without breaks
- Exposure to bright lights
- Straining to see in dim light
- Stress and fatigue
- Central heating, fans and air conditioning
- Underlying eye problems.
How To Reduce Eye Strain While Working From Home
1. Get An Eye Test
One of the significant 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 visit an optician for an eye test.
Your optician will be able to find any underlying problems with your vision and prescribe glasses that can ease the symptoms of eye strain and help with concentration. If you get prescription glasses, it’s vital that you choose a pair of glasses that you like enough to wear. If you select a pair you’re not keen on, you will likely not wear them as you should.
There’s a massive array of eyewear available, from standard frames to designer glasses, so there’s bound to be a pair of glasses that suit you. And, if glasses don’t tickle your fancy, there are always contact lenses.
2. Monitor Your Screen Time
The extended use of computers and digital devices is one of the most significant causes of eye strain. Screens cause our eyes to strain more than print material because:
- People sit too close or too far from their screens
- Devices have glare and reflection
- People blink less while using computers
- Poor contrast between text and the background.
Working from home has meant that many people have had more flexibility with the hours they work. This flexibility means that you can take the time to give your eyes a rest while you work.
As a rule, for every 20 minutes you look at a screen, you should look away for 20 seconds and stare at something 20 feet away. This is 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. The exercise helps to relax your eye muscles and is a bit like resetting your eyes. Not only will this help to reduce the strain on your eyes from the screen, but it can also boost your concentration. Not bad for a 20-second break, eh?
Alongside the 20/20/20 rule, you can also exercise your eyes by doing eye yoga (yep, that’s a thing!). Eye yoga involves focus shifting, controlled eye-rolling and palming to help your eyes relax and recover from excessive screen usage.
Other ways to reduce eye strain when using a computer at work include:
- Positioning your screen in front of you at arm’s length
- Ensuring the top of your screen is at eye level
- Adjusting your screen settings to make text bigger 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 extensive, but taking a bit of 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 an energy boost
- Reduce stress
- Boost creativity, productivity and performance
- Improve your mental and physical health.
When you’re taking a break, try your best to avoid looking at other screens like your phone. It’s tempting to catch up with social media and emails while taking a break, but that won’t give your eyes the time they need to relax. If you’re struggling with ideas of what to do on your break, go for a walk or catch up with your favourite podcast.