Ergonomics For Eyes
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
It’s common these days for people to pay special attention to the well being of their bodies in the workplace. Ergonomic training, equipment and furniture are common now but for some strange reason no one seems to place much importance on eye care in the workplace. How could this be? Our eyes are absolutely vital to our quality of life and are a huge part of our ability to perform to our greatest ability. They shouldn’t be undervalued.
Here’s how I see things going in the near future. Just as employers are subject to OSHA regulated ergonomic standards that are intended to prevent MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders), I can see a time when this will include vision related conditions such as Computer Vision Syndrome (aka Digital Eye Strain).
According to a study by common sense media adults spend an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes in front of a digital device. I’d say that number is much higher for people that work in the tech industry. They spend all day in front of digital devices and many of them go home to continue working.
This amount of constant contraction of the eye muscles (in particular the Ciliary Muscle) takes a toll and data is starting to come in showing the long term negative effects of such lifestyles. It won’t be long before employees start to complain about eye fatigue in masses. It’s better to get ahead of the problem now by educating employees, interns and students on proper eye care.
It’s not enough to have a yearly eye exam. That’s good for making sure eyes are healthy and seeing their best but doctors don’t always know the patients specific work or home conditions. Employers and administrators should bring in a professional consultant that will take the environment, type of work and hours of work into account.
Until such a person is available to you, I’ve put together a small list of recommendations that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. I call this “Ergonomics for Eyes”.
Follow the 20/20/20 Guide: For every 20 minutes that you spend focusing on something up close, take 20 seconds to blink and focus on something that is at least 20 feet away. This allows the Ciliary Muscle to relax and blinking brings missing moisture back.
Keep your prescription updated: Seeing your eye doctor on a yearly basis is very important. This will ensure that your eyeglasses prescription (if you need any) is up to date. Small changes can make a big difference in your quality of vision and productivity.
Ask your doctor for a computer prescription: If you are Presbyopic then you should ask your doctor for a prescription specifically written for the focal length you use the most at work. The average computer monitor is further than a typical reading prescription. (Avg. monitor distance is 24”. Avg. reading prescription is written for 15”) this has been a real life changer for many people I’ve helped. Talk to your doctor about it.
Consider getting computer glasses: If you’re under the age of 40 and don’t require a prescription (or basic reading glasses) then there are still computer glasses you should consider. Eyewear such as those made by Gunnar Optix and Felix Grey have a slight magnification and decentered Optical Center which helps relax the Ciliary Muscle during up close focusing. (Read my article on Computer Glasses: How they really work)
Keep your eyes moist: You may not have noticed but studies have shown that we don’t blink as much as we should when staring at digital devices. This causes our eyes to feel dry, itchy and blurry. The best solution of course is to blink regularly. Even better, close your eyes for a minute or two and relax. It will help your eyes replenish the cocktail of oils and mucous secretions that coat your eyes. Artificial tears may help also but I would suggest consulting with your eye doctor before you go off trying random products.
Reduce the brightness of your screen: Modern displays are bright, crisp and beautiful to look at but staring at it for hours on end can really strain your eyes. Most smartphones automatically adjust the screen brightness to the light intensity of the environment but you can do the same thing with your computer monitor. F.lux is a free software that you can install on just about any device and it enables you to cut the blue out of your screen to reduce the intensity. It adjusts the intensity of your screen based on your location and time of day (you can also make manual adjustments). Think of it like the “night shift” mode on your iPhone. This is a nice option for those that don’t want to invest in glasses with a slight tint.
Go outside: Fresh air helps you out in many ways but I just want to encourage you to take a break from all the devices in your life. Get out of the office and take a walk outside (Don’t forget your sunglasses). Look at the color of the sky, the leaves on the trees and the beautiful people all around you. There is more to life than that which you see online.
Get Sleep: This seems like an easy one but it really is important to sleep. Your eyes need to relax and there is no better way than sleeping. 8 hours may not be possible but you should try to get at least 6 hours of solid sleep every night. Your eyes will thank you in the morning.
I hope that you find something that works for you. I encourage you to do everything you can to take care of the health of your eyes. Their health and well-being influences just about every area of your life.
If you are an employer looking for “Ergonomics for Eyes” consulting I can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy Gunnar Optiks on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2HBdAUB
Visit the Felix Gray Website: https://shopfelixgray.com/
Watch more of our videos on YouTube: Eye Influence