The average American spends 2,000 hours working per year, and for a lot of us, that means sitting behind the computer and typing away. While typing can be a strain on the wrists, staring at a computer for eight or more hours each day can do a number on your eyes and eyesight. Here are five tips on how to keep your eyes healthy at work.
Optimize Your Computer Settings
If you tend to stare at a computer screen all day, you may succumb to an increasingly common issue known as digital eyestrain. It may sound like a First World Problem, but looking at a computer screen for hours on end adds excess strain to your eyes. To minimize that strain, situate the computer screen to avoid glare and adjusted the font size so that you can read comfortably. Replacing old monitors with newer LCD ones can also help, as technology has improved to minimize glare.
Take Breaks From Staring at the Computer
The best way to combat tired eyes is to simply take a step back from your desk and let your eyes rest. We’re not talking about a power nap, but taking a break from looking at your computer screen and walking around the office can do wonders for your general health as well as give your eyes a much needed vacation from reading a digital screen.
It sounds basic, but people tend to blink less than they usually do while staring at a computer screen. Some studies say we blink 66% less during those times. Blinking is an important part of eye health because it keeps eyes properly moisturized. Of course, blinking isn’t a function we spend much thinking about, but if you experience dry eyes, tired eyes, or blurred vision, make sure you’re blinking enough to keep your eyes healthy.
Take Advantage of Eye Care Insurance
Not all health insurance offered through the workplaces include eye care insurance. Many small businesses don’t offer it, since it is not required under the Affordable Care Act. Only 35% of American businesses offer their employees vision care. If you are part of the lucky 35%, it’s a good idea to make regular appointments with your optometrist to keep your eyesight in check. Think of it as routine maintenance. Experts say that a good rule of thumb is to have an eye exam every 1-2 years. If you have insurance but haven’t gone to an eye doctor in a while, maybe it’s time to schedule an appointment.
Keep Artificial Tears Handy
If you commonly feel dry eyes while staring at a computer all day, keep a tiny bottle of artificial tears at your desk. It is important not to confuse artificial tears with over-the-counter eyedrops that treat red eyes. The kind that treats red eyes works by constricting the blood vessels in the eye, and overuse of these drops can actually make the problem worse. Even with regular artificial tears, however, you should not overuse them. If you experience chronic dry eyes, schedule an appointment with your doctor, as it could be a more serious issue.
In today’s workplace culture, staring at a computer screen has become a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your eye health. Taking a few precautions can help you maintain healthier eyes in the office and can help save your vision.
Tara Heath is a 37 year old health professional and works as a freelancer writer in the evenings. Her writing focuses mainly on health, such as skincare and how to live a healthy lifestyle overall. She lives in Burbank, Ca. with her husband and two beautiful daughters—ages eight and twelve.