When the Bureau of Labor Statistics published their “The Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States” list in 2013, full-time office work made the cut. Between diabetes, back pain. obesity and the effects of a sedentary life, office work has an unwelcome effect of shortening lifespans. But there are other, more immediate effects that many people overlook. Eyestrain caused by poor office lighting and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
The fluorescent Lights or Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) that brighten most offices are simply bad for your eyes. You’ve likely experienced the results. Headaches. Inability to keep your eyes open at times, burning, watery, sore or dry eyes, difficulty seeing a document or screen, double vision, decreased concentration and light sensitivity. But add to that the effects of prolonged computer use, and you’ve got an eye disaster waiting to happen. An article in the American Journal of Public Health reported that the risk of eye disease increases with exposure to both types of lighting. Eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are common long-term effects.
But despite the grim forecast for office workers, you can make some quick, simple environmental changes can have a big impact on your eyes. Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve your workplace lighting and your vision.
- Initiate change
Team up with your coworkers to ask management for healthier lighting to save all your visions.
- Use a desk lamp
In dim lighting (which can be just as uncomfortable for your eyes) use a desk lamp.
- Reduce window glare
If you can, reposition your desk or computer so that any light coming in from the window is off to the side, not in front or behind you.
- Cut digital screen glare
Close the blinds during the sunniest parts of the day, and get an anti-glare screen protector.
- Change your settings
Your computer is also a lighting source, and therefore affects your eyes when used for long periods. Setup your computer screen so it’s 20 inches from you, and 4-6 inches below your eyes. Adjust it to a comfortable brightness and contrast that is a little dimmer than your work environment.
- Improve your posture
Sit with your head and neck upright and in line with your torso, not bent down or tilted back. Face your screen directly. Make sure to use a chair that gives good lumbar support.
- Enlarge your computer font
Increase the text size of your computer (or on your phone screen) so you don’t have to strain to focus or see.
Keep in mind that your eyes get thirsty just like the rest of your body. Constant dry eyes are not only irritating; according to the National Eye Institute, they can lead to significant eye problems down the road.
- Take mini breaks
Along with your regularly scheduled 15-minute breaks, step away from your computer for 5 minutes every once in a while to give your eyes a break and your neck and back a chance to stretch out.
- Do the 20-20-20
Cut the eyestrain by practicing the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Get an eye exam
At least once a year, you should plan to see your vision care specialist for a full exam. Symptoms caused by bad office lighting can also be exacerbated by vision problems, such as near-sightedness, farsightedness, age-related macular degeneration, astigmatism or near-vision loss. Your doctor can recommend the right solution to help your eyes thrive, no matter where they are.
Your eyesight is everything. Keep your vision clear by implementing these tips into your office to-do list.