When people think of eye injuries at work, many conjure up the jobs that seem most risky to the eyes, like welder, construction worker, or chemical engineer (handling chlorine, acid and other chemicals). These are the types of jobs with the highest risk of having a foreign object enter the eye.
While those jobs do involve risk to the eyes, this month during Workplace Eye Wellness Month, we take a look at a more recent threat to our vision thanks to technology and convenience.
According to Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2001. For many, this is the primary way they access digital information, via texting, email, engaging in social media platforms and surfing the web. Between smart phones, laptops and digital pads, nearly everyone in the U.S. is online some time during the day or night, and your eyes know it. Not so “smart” says The American Academy of Ophthalmology.
There are some simple ways to get relief from Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome.
- Observe the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20-feet away and rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use.
- Make sure that you’re looking down toward your computer screen, optimally about 4-5 inches below eye level as measured from the center of the screen and 20-28 inches from the eyes. Use an anti-glare screen when possible.
- Lighting is important. Position the computer screen away from the glare of light sources, particularly overhead lighting and windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and switch to lower wattage bulbs in your desk lamps.
- If you’re using a word processing program, you might be able to raise the % size of your font (as shown below in the upper right of figure A), without affecting your document format.
This visual adjustment is an easy way to work with larger font without reformatting.
- This is a simple one: make an effort to blink frequently, keep eye drops by your side and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
If you have uncorrected vision problems, it can increase the severity of Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. Make an appointment with your eye care professional to see if there’s anything that can be done to improve your vision and comfort while using digital devices.
Next time, we’ll explore Personal Protective Equipment for your eyes, or PPE.