The number of people working remotely has increased exponentially amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it isn’t hard to see why. For starters, remote work allows people to contribute to lowering the risk of spreading COVID-19. It also allows them to spend their time more wisely and enjoy greater flexibility over how and where they work.
But remote work isn’t without its challenges, one of which has a lot to do with eye health. If you’re one of the many people who switched to working remotely because of the pandemic, you likely spend most of your working hours staring at your computer screen. That can lead to something called digital eye strain.
Also known as computer vision syndrome, digital eye strain refers to a group of eye and vision problems that are caused by prolonged usage of digital devices. It can cause blurry vision, eye redness, and eye dryness. If left unchecked, digital eye strain can cause significant and frequent discomfort. It can also negatively impact your productivity and work efficiency.
The good news is that you can prevent digital eye strain and keep your eyes healthy in a remote work setup by following these tips:
Take breaks to rest your eyes while you work remotely
Working remotely involves hours of sitting in front of your computer. Doing so without taking breaks periodically can cause eye strain and headaches. To avoid discomfort, follow the 20-20-20 rule. This method involves looking away from your screen and focusing your eyes on any object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Do this every 20 minutes.
Don’t forget to take actual breaks where you step away from your computer. Get a glass of water, listen to a song or two in another room, or step outside for a few minutes.
Maintain good posture
Don’t underestimate the importance of good posture when it comes to eye care. When you sit down in front of your computer, keep your feet flat on the floor and your wrists slightly elevated, rather than resting on your keyboard. Your monitor should also be positioned for a slightly downward gaze, as that’s easier on the eye than looking straight ahead or upwards.
A downward gaze also helps reduce the chances of being affected by drafts. This is especially important if you have a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in your room. In addition, try to sit up straight. Slouching over your desk can create tension in your back and shoulders, which can restrict blood flow to your eyes and cause vision problems.
Adjust lightning while you work remotely
Proper room lighting also matters when it comes to eye health. If the room is too bright or too dim, you’ll find yourself squinting in order to see what’s on your screen. Eye squinting in itself isn’t a harmful habit. But doing it too often, especially in front of a computer screen, can lead to eye strain and headaches.
Aside from adjusting your room’s lighting, you should also adjust your computer screen’s brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you. Your screen should be bright enough so that you don’t have to squint to see properly but not too bright that it looks like your screen is glowing.
Blink more frequently
The act of blinking is typically considered involuntary. But when you’re working in front of a computer screen, you should make a conscious effort to blink more. That’s because blinking helps spread hydrating substances, like tears and mucus, across your eyes to keep them moist, oxygenated, and healthy.
The average person blinks 15-20 times per minute, but studies show that people blink only five to seven times per minute while using digital devices. When you don’t blink as often as you should, hydrating substances on your eyes have more time to evaporate. This can lead to dryness, irritation, and a loss of concentration — all of which can result in reduced efficiency.
Choose the right eyewear
If you can’t avoid working in front of a computer for long periods of time, consult an eye care professional (ECP) to determine if you need special eyewear to prevent digital eye strain. These days, there are many glasses and contact lenses in the market that are specifically designed to meet the unique visual demands of computer use. Using eyewear that fits your needs could help you do your work more efficiently.
Eat foods that are good for your eyes
You can also take care of your eyes from the inside by eating fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and green leafy ones, as part of your daily routine. These foods are rich in nutrients that are essential for healthy eye function, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Eating fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can also help keep your eyes healthy.
Bottom line, take care of your eyes while you work remotely
Spending less time in front of your computer seems like the simplest way to care for your eyes and avoid eye strain. But if you’re working remotely, that may not be a viable option for you. If you have no choice but to spend several hours in front of your computer every day, practicing good eye care habits can keep you feeling good while working remotely.