The world we live in is changing fast; especially when it comes to the workplace. Office work is a relatively new form of work. Before that most of our ancestors were manual laborers. As a result, their eyes had evolved to see long distances.
However, the world today is much different. Most of us work less active jobs that require us to use our near vision. This applies to everyone working in offices, libraries, shops, and so on and so forth. The list is endless.
Because our world and way of life is changing much faster than our eye can adapt to, it can cause quite a bit of stress on our eyes. Especially when most of us spend our workdays plopped down in front of a screen for six to eight hours at a time. In fact, as I write this, I’m on about hour four of working on a computer.
But I’m not worried, because I have some tricks up my sleeve to prevent visual stress to keep myself productive and headache free!
Visual Stress and Symptoms
You may have heard of digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). These conditions are closely related to visual stress, but there’s one important factor that separates visual stress from the others.
Visual stress is sometimes misdiagnosed as a behavioral disorder because one of its most common symptoms is lack of focus. Lack of focus, daydreaming and the inability to concentrate are all common symptoms of ADD. So if you’re having trouble focusing at work and don’t have a history of ADD, you may be suffering from visual stress.
Some other symptoms include:
- Tired eyes
- Burning and watery eyes
- Fuzzy or double vision
- Headaches, normally felt at the front of the head
- Nausea or dizziness after long periods of work
- Trouble focusing or seeing after work
If you’re experiencing two or more of these symptoms, talk to your eye doctor to make sure it’s visual stress and not a behavioral disorder.
In the meantime, whether you think you may have visual stress of not, everyone can benefit from these five tips to prevent and sooth your eyes. As an added bonus, you’ll feel more productive and awake at work; so your pesky boss won’t be breathing down your neck all day.
1. Properly Place Chair
Properly placing your computer screen and your work chair doesn’t mean placing it in whatever position is most comfortable. Comfort doesn’t always mean it’ll eliminate visual stress. Besides, after 10 minutes you’ll get used to your new and correct computer position and it’ll seem like the most comfortable choice.
The way you want to position your chair is slightly elevated so that you’re looking down at the computer screen. But only slightly! Don’t have your chair so high that your chin is touching your chest. That’s bound to cause some intense neck strain. Try holding your chin straight; this is how you should be looking at your screen.
Then adjust your chair accordingly.
2. Keep Your Distance
You don’t need to have your nose pressed up against your screen to be able to see it. If you do, you should talk to your doctor, quick. For the rest of us, the Harmond Distance will work just fine.
The Harmond Distance is about 16 inches, which is how far your face should be from your book, or sheet of paper if you’re writing. For computers, it should be anywhere between 20 and 24 inches away.
Not everyone carries around a measuring tape, so a good way to judge a good distance is to place your fist underneath your chin. The distance from your knuckle to your elbow is how far your eyes should be from your work material (computers and books alike).
3. Face the Computer Head On
We mean this both figuratively and literally. If you face your computer head on instead of at an angle, you’ll be more productive and able to face your work head on.
Looking at your computer from an angle can produce unnecessary visual stress. Screens were not designed to be looked at from an angle. Try it right now. Look at your computer screen from the right side. What you’ll notice is that the right side of the screen is well lit, but not the left side.
Adjust your screen so that you’re comfortably facing the screen head on. The position of the screen will depend on each individual. Your chair position and computer position should work comfortably together.
4. Use Daylight
Natural daylight is the best source of light when it comes to long hours of work. Daylight isn’t as harsh on the eyes as those horrible fluorescent office lights. If you have the option to choose between artificial and daylight, always choose daylight.
If you aren’t so lucky to have this option, you can do your part in trying to get your office to change their lightbulbs to special lights that imitate natural light. If you have a desk lamp, consider changing the bulb to a dimmer color.
If you can’t pull off any of these solutions, the best thing to do is to avoid the glare of the lights on your screen. This means adjusting your computer monitor so that the florescent lights aren’t being reflected off the screen and into your eyes. This also can prevent severe headaches.
5. Take a Break
Our last tip on the list is to take a break! Take a breather, let your eyes relax and defocus. The best part about this tip is your breaks don’t have to be long and they can be discreet.
The rule of thumb is that your eyes need a break about every 10 minutes. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but they only need to rest for 10 seconds. A good trick to use is the 10-10-10 rule. For every 10 minutes of work, look at something 10 feet away for 10 seconds.
You can look at anything! The only exception is another screen. Don’t go from one screen to another. Look at a plant, or a painting, or that cute new co-worker.
These five simple tips are guaranteed to make your life at work easier and more productive. Our eyes are the windows to our souls, but they’re also the windows to our success. We take our eyes for granted, but one way to pay them back is to take care of them, especially at work.