The work-from-home movement continues to grow, and while it has its advantages – no commute, every day is Casual Friday – there are drawbacks, especially when it comes to your health. Researchers have found that working remotely leads to longer workdays for many Americans, and more time in front of the computer means you need to take steps to preserve your vision when working from your home office.
“Of course we feel safer in our homes, but working remotely doesn’t reduce your risk of Computer Vision Syndrome caused by prolonged screen time,” explains Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center. “Just like your desk at work, your home office setup needs to be eye-friendly.”
What Does Computer Vision Syndrome Feel Like?
Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as digital eyestrain, occurs when we spend too much time in front of a monitor or another digital device. Extended screen time can result in tired, red, dry, and achy eyes; and can even cause headaches.
Persistent symptoms of red eye or blurred vision; or headaches that don’t go away, are all signs that your vision is at risk and should not be ignored, Dr. Velasco says.
Designing an Eye-Friendly Home Office
Every home office is different, but if you take your vision into account when setting up our workspace, you’ll be able to avoid the worst symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.
- Stay Lit
The key to an eye-friendly home office is lighting, specifically overhead lighting and lower watt bulbs if you’re in a room without much natural lighting.
“You can add task lighting, but make sure the light is not shining directly onto the computer, as this will create glare,” Dr. Velasco says. “Make sure light is not shining directly onto the computer screen and make sure there isn’t a window behind you.”
- Adjust Your Screen
Ideally, you want your computer screen to be slightly below eye level, Dr. Velasco says. If you’re pointing your chin up while working at your computer, it means your screen is too high. This can cause neck pain and tension headaches if you keep it up.
You’ll also want to make sure your screen is not at an angle, especially if you wear glasses. If your head is at an abnormal position while viewing a computer screen, you may risk looking through the wrong portion of your lens, which can lead to blurred or distorted vision.
- Keep Your Distance
Remember when your parents would warn you not to sit too close to the television? The same goes for the work-from-home crowd. Whether you’re sitting in your home office or looking at your phone on the couch, your screen should be 20-to-28 inches from your eyes.
- Fix the Brightness
Like the lighting in your home, you’ll want to adjust the brightness on your screen in order to preserve your vision. Keeping it at 100 percent is not recommended, Dr. Velasco says, so play around with the brightness and contrast until your eyes feel comfortable.
You may consider adding a blue-blocking treatment – a filter designed to limit blue light emissions from your screen. Prescription computer glasses also limit blue light and have proven to reduce the risk of digital eyestrain.
- Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
When it comes to preventing Computer Vision Syndrome, nothing is more effective than simply getting up and walking away from your screen. Dr. Velasco is a big believer in the 20-20-20 Rule:
Every 20 minutes..
Look at something 20 feet away…
For 20 seconds.
The 20-20-20 Rule not only gives your eyes a break, but it gives your brain a rest after lengthy screen sessions when working remotely. Practice makes perfect, so Dr. Velasco recommends setting reminders throughout the day to take a break and focus on something other than work.
iFocus Vision Center remains open with strict guidelines in place to protect patients and staff members. Patients with an urgent need are seen by appointment only, and iFocus offers curbside pickup for eyeglasses or contact lens refills. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 702-473-5660.