Eye strain? Dry eyes? These are common if you work in an office, but not unavoidable. Following a few eye health tips can make a big difference for your eyes.
As many as 90% of digital device users experience digital eye strain symptoms, according to a 2018 article published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Optometry.
Also, office workers are much more likely to develop dry eye disease than construction workers, despite the latter being constantly exposed to dust and debris.
Here are some simple and practical tips to keep your eyes healthy if you work in an office.
1. Close Your Eyes Fully Every Once in a While
When looking at a screen, you may blink less than normal. What’s more, a study found that reading text on a computer increases the number of incomplete blinks.
When this happens, the edge of your upper eyelid doesn’t meet the lower eyelid, which prevents the tear film from spreading over the front of the eye. Your eyes can feel dry and strained as a result.
Consciously blinking more often may help. But to make sure your tear film lubricates your eye, close your eyes fully for a few seconds several times every hour.
2. Take a 10-Minute Break Every Hour
Whether you work seated or use an upright desk, it’s important to give your eyes a break regularly. Take a 10-minute break every hour, or shorter breaks more often.
Regular breaks are important not only for your eyes but also for your brain. According to Dr. Stuart Farrimond, author of The Science of Living book, the mind can only concentrate on tasks for up to 80 minutes before performance drops.
By taking breaks, you renew your focus so you can continue to work on tasks productively.
During breaks, avoid buttoning your smartphone. Look away from screens to rest your eyes. And don’t forget about the rest of your body—move and stretch your arms and back to relieve muscle tension.
3. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
One of the best-known eye exercises, the 20-20-20 rule helps you deal with focusing fatigue. This type of eye strain occurs when you spend long periods looking at a screen or doing close work.
The exercise relaxes the focusing muscle in the eye. It’s easy to do if there’s a window nearby, or if you work in a large open-plan office.
Every 20 minutes, look at a distant object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more.
You may want to set a recurring 20-minute reminder on your computer or phone before the 20-20-20 rule becomes a habit.
4. Do a Simple Focusing Exercise
What if you work in a small office and don’t have a window nearby? You can try a different focusing exercise.
Hold your thumbs in the air. One should be at arm’s length and the other near your nose. Focus on the near thumb for 2 seconds. Then focus for 2 seconds on the thumb farther away.
Next, focus for the same amount of time on an object away from your thumb, such as a bookshelf, and then on something even farther away.
The objects you focus on should be progressively more distant. So, if you can, get up from your desk now and then and do the exercise before a window or on a terrace.
5. Adjust Lighting and Minimize Glare
Reducing glare is important for maintaining good eyesight in and out of the office. Bright light sources, including sunlight from a window or strong indoor lights, contribute to eye strain and possibly other eye health problems.
Position your computer so the window is on your side rather than before or behind you. Turn off or adjust overhead lights and any other indoor lights that are bothering you. If you work at night, reduce eye strain by dimming surrounding lights so that the office is softly lit.
Glare can strain your eyes, whether it comes from your computer screen or reflects off other surfaces around your office. One easy way to deal with glare you cannot control is to wear computer glasses with an anti-reflective coating.
6. Adjust Display Settings
Looking for more healthy vision tips? Tweaking your computer’s brightness, color temperature, and text size can also help you reduce eye strain.
Set your computer’s brightness to around the same level as the brightness surrounding you. A good brightness means that your screen will look neither dull gray nor like an obvious light source.
In terms of color temperature, you can use a blue light filter app to reduce artificial blue light. While the association between blue light, eye strain, and sleep disruption is controversial, better not take any chances.
Small text and certain fonts may also strain your eyes more. Adjust the font and the contrast between the font color and background to something you feel comfortable with. For example, choose a sans serif font instead of a serif one.
7. Improve Air Quality
What does air quality have to do with your eyes? If air is blowing toward your face from an air conditioning unit or heater, or the air in your office is very dry, you may develop dry eyes. Improving air quality in your workspace is one of the best tips for good eyesight.
Adjust the thermostat—or talk with the person who can. You can also start using a simple portable USB humidifier that you plug into your computer. If possible, consider also moving your desk or chair so that you avoid dry air reaching your face.
8. Roll Your Eyes, Literally
Last on our list of eye health tips is another simple eye exercise you can do at the office. But be warned, you probably don’t want your boss to be around when you do it.
Simply roll your eyes gently in one direction and then in the other without moving your head. Repeat the rotation for a total of five times in each direction. For best results, do it every hour. According to WebMD, this simple exercise can reduce soreness and tension in the eye muscles.
And with that, our list of tips to keep your eyes healthy and reduce eye strain at work comes to an end. Put them into practice and your eyes will begin to feel better before long. And don’t forget to share them with your coworkers, too. Healthy eyes make it easier to keep up the team spirit.