Computers have undoubtedly changed the world. They have made tasks that previously seemed impossible, possible. They allow us to instantly connect with people all over the world. They have hugely enhanced business productivity. The list goes on. However, computers can also change the way we see the world – and not in a good way!
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OK, so staring at a screen for too long probably won’t make your eyes turn square like your parents used to say, but it certainly can have a very adverse impact on your vision. Long hours in front of a computer can cause you to suffer from dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches and in some cases even lead to short-sightedness or scarring of the cornea.
Let’s say you stare at your computer screen for eight hours on a working day, that’s 40 hours a week, and (let me just get my calculator out) 2080 hours a year! What makes this statistic even more frightening is that most of us then go home and proceed to stare at even more screens – mobile phones, televisions, laptops, tablets.
There are habits that can prevent eye damage at work and keep you healthy everywhere though. Here are the most important ones:
1. The 20-20-20 Rule
The what? Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your screen for 20 seconds, and look at something 20 feet away. This rule helps to relax your eye muscles and consequently reduces eye fatigue throughout the day. Of course this is only a guideline - the 19-22-20 rule or the 17-20-25 rule will work just as well! 20-20-20 just has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think?
2. Remember To Blink!
When we stare at a screen for a prolonged period of time we tend to forget to blink! In fact, in the minute you’ve spent reading this article so far you have probably only blinked about 4 times, whereas if your eyes weren’t focused on anything in particular you would have blinked approximately 12 times! Blinking frequently is essential as it helps to lubricate the eyes and keep them from feeling dry and irritated.
3. Set Up Your Desk Ergonomically
Having a bad desk layout is one of the most common reasons for eyestrain in the workplace, and one of the easiest to fix. Your eyes should be in line with or just below the top of your computer screen, which should be approximately 20-30 inches away from your eyes. It is also important to ensure that your computer screen is unaffected by glare from ceiling lights or windows.
4. Find A Comfortable Level Of Brightness
This works two-fold in that the brightness of both your screen and your surroundings are equally as important for maintaining healthy eyes in the office. Your computer screen should not seem any brighter or darker than the lighting in your office. If you’re struggling to read what is on your screen, or similarly if your screen is an obvious light source (as in the photo above) then change the settings!
5. Take Short Breaks
This tip is similar to the 20-20-20 rule in that it gives your eye muscles a chance to relax. What I always see in my office is people browsing the web on their lunch hour – but this is the perfect opportunity to get away from your computer and give your eyes a break! It is also important to take short breaks throughout the day – this can be making yourself a cup of tea or even just walking to the printer and back (make sure you actually print something or this can look a bit weird).
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