So many jobs require employees to look at computer screens under fluorescent lights for several hours a day. These sources of light fall under the category of unnatural blue light. You’re exposed to natural blue light from the sun on a daily basis (fun fact: it’s actually what makes the sky blue), but its man-made form can take a toll on your eyes after a while. Physical fatigue, eye twitching and reddening eyes are common short-term symptoms, but long-term exposure can lead to further issues like gradual loss of vision. However, there are things you can do to stay productive without putting your eyes at risk. Here are a few ways you can relieve eye strain at work.
1. Adjust your settings
Adjusting your computer’s brightness, contrast and color temperature can make it easier on your eyes. Try to make your screen blend into your workspace as best as possible. You can also boost the text size to avoid squinting for long periods of time.
2. Reduce glare
Your computer screen can act as a mirror for sunlight or overhead lighting to bounce directly into your eyes. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your computer or lower the shades if you’re near windows. If you can’t dodge the overhead lights, ask your employer if they’ll allow you to install a computer hood.
3. Moderate lighting
Your computer screen is a big contributing factor when it comes to eye strain, but so is harsh interior lighting. If possible, try to avoid working all day under fluorescent lights. You may be able to convince coworkers to allow for some time with the lights dimmed or off. You could also temporarily move to a different room with indirect incandescent or halogen lighting.
4. Take breaks
Make it a point to get up from your desk once an hour. A short break can bring your eyes to equilibrium before getting back to work. Studies have shown that discomfort and eye strain are significantly reduced when workers take five-minute "mini-breaks" throughout their work day.
5. Blink more
It may seem superfluous, but blinking is very important when working for long periods of time on a computer. To put it into perspective, people typically blink a third less than normal when working on a computer. Blinking moistens your eyes and prevents dryness and irritation.
6. Upgrade your computer
If you’re using an outdated computer, you may be due for an upgrade. Older screens can cause images to flicker due to lower resolution, and this leads to eye strain. Newer LCD screens are easier on the eyes and sometimes have anti-reflective surfaces.
7. Consider protective eyewear
You may want to consider computer eyewear with photochromic lenses or lightly tinted lenses to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful blue light given off by digital devices. Talk to your eye doctor for details.