If you are working from home, your eyes are probably suffering more than they ever have. In the workplace, you go to meetings, colleagues may stop by to chat or ask a question, and you have hallway conversations. There are so many distractions. Working from home, however, your eyes may be staring at a screen nonstop for hours.
There are very few things that can override any of our involuntary reflexes, like breathing or blinking. But believe it or not, staring at a computer screen changes things in your brain and overrides your blink reflex.
“When we use a computer, our blink rate drops a full 60-70 percent less than normal,” says Angel (Eddie) J. Mercado, OD, an optometrist in Dayton, Ohio, where AT-A-GLANCE is designed. “The new demand on eyes is creating a lot of problems. In fact, Computer Vision Syndrome is a term we use now and it’s quite prevalent. We are seeing a lot of people with very dry eyes, eye fatigue, and strain.”
According to Dr. Mercado, there are things you should do if you are spending a lot of time on a computer.
Position your computer screen properly
Be sure that your screen is placed correctly for eye health. It should be 24-25 inches away from you, as this is the best distance for lowering eye strain. Additionally, you want your focus to be 4-5 inches below eye level. So, if the top edge of your screen is around eye level, your focus is probably about right. Find the most ergonomic setup for you with this Wellness Configurator from our sister brand, Kensington.
Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
Using the 20/20/20 rule is one of the best things you can do to protect your eyes. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at your screen, take 20 seconds to focus on something at least 20 feet away. This allows your eyes to refresh. This very small, short gesture can make a world of difference to your eyes.
Use blue-light-blocking glasses
Anything you can do to reduce eye strain is important, so get some blue block glasses which filter out blue light from your screen before it reaches your eyes. Most blue block lenses also have an anti-glare coating, which optometrists think may actually be why the glasses reduce strain. The blue block especially helps if you are on your screens after sundown.
“Blue block glasses help the body to keep melatonin and other sleep hormones steady,” says Dr. Mercado. “That helps to ensure that your nighttime computer use doesn’t mess up your natural sleep patterns, and sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on eye health.”
Schedule an eye exam
It’s very possible that you need a prescription for computer use.
“Many people can see fine at a distance, and they can still read up close, so they assume they don’t need a prescription,” explains Dr. Mercado. “But we are finding that lots of people who work on a computer all day are undiagnosed for trouble at that particular distance.”
Did You Know?
Our amazing bodies make two types of eye moisture! Glands just above your eyes make the watery tears you are familiar with, but the glands on your eyelid edges make oils. The oils float over the watery tears, so that they don’t evaporate so quickly. The tiny holes near your eye corners drain the tears into your nasal passages as new tears are produced.
Replenish your eyes with five-minute warm compress
If your eyes are straining to see, and they are dry and fatigued, it’s no wonder they burn at the end of the day. Get a microwavable eye compress. At bedtime, heat up the compress and lie down with it on your closed eyes for at least five minutes.
If you open your eyes and look around, things may seem a bit hazy. This just means you have activated the moisturizing oil glands, and they are giving your hard-working eyes a spa treatment. It’s best to go to sleep with these in your eyes, giving them a long, healthy rest.
Lubricate with artificial tears
During computer use, lubricate your eyes frequently with artificial tears. These eyedrops help to keep moisture on your eyes’ surfaces. If you have dry eye syndrome or other eye issues, ask your eye doctor what the best choice is for your situation.
Consider Omega-3 supplements
You may want to consider taking fish oil and/or flaxseed oil supplements, which are known to help with eye dryness. Discuss this with your eye doctor.
“We recommend 200-500 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) which are the actual fatty acids extracted from the skin of oily fish,” says Dr. Mercado. “Fish oil is more efficient than flaxseed oil, but they both contain Omega-3 fatty acids that improve tear production and reduce inflammation.”
We may be embracing the work-from-home culture, but our eyes are not fans of the constant staring at screens. It’s vitally important to take care of your eyes.
Try not to be on your screens too much after sunset, and follow Dr. Mercado’s recommendations to avoid Computer Vision Syndrome:
- Position your computer screen properly
- Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
- Use blue-light-blocking glasses
- Schedule an eye exam
- Replenish your eyes with a five-minute warm compress
- Lubricate with artificial tears
- Consider Omega-3 supplements
We know how busy you are—in fact, it’s our business. It’s not easy finding a good work/home balance, especially if you find yourself working from home. Do what you can to keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy and happy. You can always count on AT-A-GLANCE to bring you new ways to make that happen.
Are you doing everything you can to help your eyes? Your eyes work so hard for you. Take care of them.