Working from Home? Common Eye Problems and How to Prevent Them
According to a recent US Census, about 5.2% or 8 million Americans work from home. Now, working from home can mean a lot of things, but in most cases, these work-from-home jobs are usually done in front of a computer.
Just like in a regular office, people who work from home are at risk for eye problems associated with extended periods of screen time. Because the majority of office functions are done in front of a computer or laptop, many employees develop at least one form of eye problems.
Common Eye Problems and How to Avoid Them
- Digital Eye Strain
Computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain is a condition that is caused by prolonged screen exposure from computers, tablets, or cellphones. On average, office workers spend seven hours a day in front of a screen, not including the screen time spent after work hours.
Symptoms of digital eye strain or CVS:
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
If you experience these symptoms while working from home, you should learn how to avoid or alleviate eye strain so that you don’t develop further eye problems.
How to avoid digital eye strain:
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule (look away from your screen every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
- Make sure the room you’re working in is adequately lit
- Ensure that you’re always sitting in a proper position
- Don’t have the screen too close to your face (at least 20-28 inches away from your eyes)
- Correct glares of digital screens or use an anti-glare screen
- Blink every 10-15 times per minute to coat your retinas
- Palm your eyes every few minutes to relax your eye muscles
2. Myopia or Nearsightedness
Myopia is an eye condition wherein an affected person can only see objects clearly when they are up close. Nearsightedness, or the tendency to acquire it, is usually inherited from parents, as several studies suggest. If you already have an increased risk for developing myopia, increased exposure to digital screens can exacerbate the condition.
People who work excessively in front of a computer can have a permanent reduction in their distance vision, whether they have inherited myopia or not.
How to correct nearsightedness:
- Wear prescription eyeglasses or click here to check out contact lenses
- Have corneal refractive therapy or CRT done to reshape the curvature of the cornea
- Have laser procedures done to permanently correct vision
- Reduce digital eye strain to prevent worsening of the condition
3. Dry eyes
If you stare at the computer screen too long without blinking, your eyes can become dry. Dry eyes is a common eye condition wherein there are not enough tears to lubricate the eye. So, even though you have a lot of reports to finish and deadlines to meet, don’t let your eyes dry up.
Recent studies have shown that using a computer makes us blink less and tend to cause incomplete blinks. The purpose of blinking is to spread tear film across the whole cornea of our eyes, as to prevent the cornea from drying up and breaking.
Besides discomfort, dry eyes can be the root cause of eye infections due to the lack of tears to protect the eye. Furthermore, dry eyes can become severe when left untreated and cause damage to the surface of the eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes:
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus around the eyes
- Redness of the eyes
- Water eyes (as an autonomous response to dry eyes)
- Blurred vision
- Eye fatigue
How to avoid dry eyes:
- Make a conscious effort to blink 10-15 times per minute
- Don’t let air to blow into your eyes
- Add a humidifier to your home office
- Do the 20-20-20 rule while working
- Have your computer screen below eye level
- Stop smoking
- Use eye drops if you have chronic dry eyes
- Take a break from your work to rest your eyes
A significant effect of prolonged computer use is constant headaches. Although this problem is under CVS, we feel that it deserves a separate category altogether since almost every office worker experiences it.
You may experience headaches from your computer if the screen is too bright or has a glare. Poor lighting in your workspace and having the screen too close to your eyes are also contributing factors.
A screen-related headache may originate from behind your eyes due to the strain that your eyes are under. Sometimes, the pain may travel to other areas of the head and cause massive discomfort to the individual.
How to avoid computer-related headaches:
- Rest your eyes for fifteen minutes for every two hours of working
- Make sure your work area is properly lit
- Install a software or browser extension that corrects the color on your screen
- Avoid working in harsh lighting
- Reduce glare on your computer screen
- Clean your computer screen to reduce sharpness
Other ways to prevent eye problems
When working from home, you also have access to other screens such as TV, tablets, and cellphones. Here’s how you can reduce your screen time all together so you can better avoid problems with your vision:
- Don’t eat meals in front of a TV or while using your phone
- Limit non-work screen time
- Avoid using your electronics in bed
- Reduce time spent on social media
- Don’t take your phone when you go to the bathroom
- Do other things to alleviate boredom
- Set a daily alarm to limit your screen time
- Download an app that will help you keep track of your cellphone use
Working from home has its perks. For instance, you can have better chances of resting your eyes compared to working in an actual office. So if you have the privilege of working from home, take it as an opportunity to make sure your eyes are well taken care of.