The organization Prevent Blindness designates March as a month to raise awareness about eye safety in the workplace.
It's the end of an 8-hour work day, and your eyes feel fatigued, gritty, irritated and dry. This is quite common among office workers and other professionals who use digital screens for more than 2 hours a day. Screen time causes eye strain, and there is some concern among ophthalmologists that the blue light emitted by screens may increase the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. But more research is needed.
The sun is the greatest source of blue light and UV light. We need light for our general health. It helps us feel awake and alert during the day, and it regulates our sleep/wake cycle so that we get a restful night's sleep. But we know that long-term exposure to UV light and blue light from the sun can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and other issues. So we wear sunglasses to protect our eyes.
Another source of blue light is screens: your computers, laptops, phones, televisions and tablets. Ophthalmologists know that these screens can strain your eyes, and it's possible there is a link between extended screen use and a heightened risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Research is ongoing. In the meantime, stick to these tips to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of your workplace computer screen:
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away
- Position your computer monitor 20 to 24 inches from your eyes
- Take frequent, short breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around
- Reduce glare from your computer screen – consider using a standup lamp instead of bright overhead fluorescents, and adjust your screen brightness so it matches the surroundings
- Make sure font is large enough and the contrast is strong enough that you aren't straining to read what is displayed on your monitor
- Don't forget to blink! We blink about a third as often as we do when we are away from our screens, and blinking hydrates and moistens your eyes
There are also things to be done outside of work. Stop looking at your electronic devices and television a few hours before bedtime. Research has shown that viewing blue light close to your bedtime interferes with sleep. And schedule routine eye appointments so that Dr. Chris Walton can look for signs of vision problems and provide you with individualized tips for workplace eye safety.
For any questions about your eye health, or to schedule an appointment at our Mobile, AL, office, please call our team at 251-341-3385.