4 Tips for Working From Home to Prevent Vision Problems

An older female looking intently at a laptop screen.

Working from home has become the new normal for many Americans. Most like forgoing their commute to the office, with the bonus of saving time and money. But working outside the office also means you could be spending more time using computers. This includes e-readers and smartphones. The increased screen time can damage your eyes. To help avoid eye strain, here are four tips for working from home.

Tip 1: Record time spent on screens

Most adults age 18 and older spend at least 13 hours each day using digital devices. A British study found that people will spend 34 years looking at screens during their lifetime. Extended screen time can damage people’s eyes and cause vision problems. When working from home, you may lose track of how much time you’re on your computer or smartphone. So keep track of the hours you use devices. That way, you’ll be aware of the demand you’re placing on your eyes.

Tip 2: Rest and blink your eyes

Researchers found that over 33% of people using digital devices rarely take time to rest their eyes. Just over 10% say they never take a break, even when working from home. Viewing screens hour after hour each day puts a demand on your vision system. The eye muscles get overworked and don’t get a chance to relax and recover. And when staring at the screen, people forget to blink. But you need to blink to refresh your eyes’ natural moisture.

Eye doctors recommend these tips when using digital devices: Every 20 minutes, look up from the screen to about 20 feet away, for about 20 seconds. It’s a good way to relax your eyes, giving them time to blink and refresh.

Tip 3: Reduce exposure to blue light

Eye strain is a common complaint from people who work on digital devices for many hours each day. Common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision and dry eyes. A contributing factor to eye strain could be blue light from digital screens. In the spectrum of light, blue is more high energy and close to ultraviolet light. And it’s known to damage vision. So if you use screens throughout the day, ask your eye doctor about the value of computer glasses that block blue light. Reducing exposure to blue light may help lessen vision problems.

Scientists also believe blue light can affect people’s natural sleep cycles. At home, using digital devices until bedtime can overstimulate brain cells. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Eye doctors recommend no screen time at least two hours before heading to bed. It will help your brain relax, so you can get some sleep.

Tip 4: Use the right monitor

Did you know the light from your computer monitor is hard on your eyes, too? This light is different from sunlight, or the lights in your office or home. Most computer monitors today have LED backlighting. It works to improve the screen’s clarity, contrast and graphics. But LED lights produce blue light waves at a higher intensity than other lights in the spectrum. The LED backlighting flickers to adjust the brightness of the screen. The flicker rate is so fast, the human eye usually cannot detect it. But scientists believe these flickers can cause your pupils to change rapidly from large to small. These continuous changes also can cause eye strain and make you tired.

Before purchasing a new computer monitor to use when working from home, get tips from an expert. Research options and talk with several experts to find a design that meets your digital needs. Also, make sure the monitor is the right size. The top of the screen should be in line with your eyes, about 18 to 30 inches from your face, to reduce eye strain. Adjust the monitor’s contrast to a higher setting using warm color tones. Increase text size, too, and make sure lights don’t cause glare on the screen.

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