Many of our patients have found themselves continuing to work from home during the pandemic, and in almost all cases working from home has led to an increase in time spent in front of a computer screen. More screen time can lead to problems ranging from sore eyes to neck or backache and there are some very simple steps you can take to help yourself.
Firstly make sure you have the appropriate up-to-date glasses for screen use. The best glasses for looking at screens for the over 40 age group are specifically designed for this purpose and have various names such as office lenses, enhanced readers, or smart readers. These are not varifocals (which only have a small area for screen viewing) but are lenses designed to give a big clear area for screen use to minimise fatigue and allow good posture to keep your back and neck in a healthy position. These lenses allow the best depth of focus however an alternative is fixed focus computer glasses.
Small prescriptions can make a big difference. This is because looking at a screen is visually intense. So you may have a low prescription that will help you with prolonged screen use which might not be used for anything else. Correcting a small prescription with glasses for computer use can reduce eye strain and headaches.
Get your screen in the correct position. Your screen should be slightly below your eye line not above it. This is because when you look at screen distance your eyes naturally turn in and down slightly. If you have to look up at any area of your screen this can cause eye strain as your eyes have to counteract this natural slight downturn. The top of your screen should be no higher than eye level.
If your monitor is more than 2 years old the contrast and clarity will be reduced which can make it less comfortable to see. It really is worth investing in a good monitor if you are going to continue working from home.
Some people find a benefit in reducing blue light from the screen by having a blue-blocking coating on their glasses. Our opticians can advise you on how this can help to reduce eye strain.
The background behind your screen should not be too bright – so don’t place your screen in front of a window. It will cause glare, brightness, and distraction which can over-tire your eyes. A plain wall behind your screen is best and a window off to the side is fine.
You may have been told previously about the 20/20/20/20 rule. Regular breaks are vital – every 20 minutes take a 20-second break, look 20 feet away to relax the eye muscles, and blink 20 times. This is important because the blink rate reduces dramatically when looking at a screen which affects the delicate tear film protecting the surface of the eyes. Once the tear film chemistry alters this can cause a cascade of issues from dry or watery eyes to eyelid cysts. You may like to keep a bottle of good quality preservative-free artificial tears on your desk and pop a drop in every few hours to keep your eyes feeling fresh.