Many of us work with computers or tablets most of the day, then we relax by scrolling on our phones or watching TV. That's a lot of screen time that isn't necessarily good for our eyes – and we’ve all felt that dry-eye fatigue at the end of a long day.
August is National Eye Exam Month – a great time to share are a few tips to help you go easier on your eyes.
- Get the right lighting. Most offices are too bright; your lighting should be softer and more ambient. If you’re near a window, orient your desk so the window is beside you instead of directly in front of or behind you – and use curtains or blinds to block out some of the light. If you’re dealing with overhead fluorescents, try removing a few of the fluorescent tubes or, if possible, turn them off and use floor lamps instead.
- Update your screen. Opt for a flat screen LED monitor with an anti-reflective surface instead of the old cathode ray tube monitors. Adjust the brightness level so that it roughly matches the light levels in the room (it should be bright enough to be easily readable, but not so bright that it casts its own light on the surroundings). The screen should be about arm’s-length from your face, with the top of the monitor at eye level.
- Block out the blue. Blue light waves are harder on the eyes than other colors. You can reduce the blue light by lowering the color temperature settings in your monitor, or you can purchase glasses that help screen out the blue (usually available in prescription or nonprescription).
- Don’t dry out. Studies indicate that we blink less (or don’t complete every blink) when concentrating hard and looking at screens, which can cause our eyes to dry out. Try setting up a humidifier or using eye drops – look for drops that lubricate or moisturize rather than drops that reduce redness, which may constrict blood vessels rather than provide moisture. If in doubt, ask your eye doctor.
- Give your eyes a break. You may have heard the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds (a similar rule says to blink slowly 10 times every 20 seconds). But that doesn’t always seem practical, especially if you’re “in the zone” concentrating on a project for long periods. So find a compromise that works for you – such as a two-minute eye break every hour.
- Get an exam. It’s easy to put off that annual eye exam, but a new prescription could reduce a lot of strain. Plus, it’s important to be screened for more serious eye conditions. A new pair of glasses is also your chance to purchase lenses that reduce glare and blue light. Consider new glasses even if you normally wear contacts; wearing glasses for at least part of the day can help those tired eyes.