The old adage “the eyes are a window to the soul” has never been more relevant than it is today, especially for those with desk jobs. In the modern workplace, our eyes are our primary tools of labor, as more and more people spend hours each day staring at screens–computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and more.
It’s not just tech-focused jobs like programming, design, and marketing that require this type of prolonged screen time. It’s also professions like accountancy, journalism, sociology, and many more. The desk job is here to stay, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
One of the biggest downsides of prolonged screen time is the potential for damage to our vision. It’s not hard to understand the importance of preserving our eye health in the age of the desk job.
That’s why in this article, we’ll dive into the problem and explore ways to make sure we’re looking at our work in a healthy and safe way. Let’s take care of our eyes and get started!
About the survey we will use
It’s time to dive into the details of what happens to our eyes when we spend extended periods staring at computer and phone screens. The study commissioned by Acuvue, a leading contact lens company, revealed that the average office worker spends a whopping 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer or phone monitor. That’s equivalent to 71 days or 2 and a half months of constant screen time! And this was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which only increased the amount of screen time for many of us.
When we add in our leisure time spent on digital devices, it’s clear that our eyes are at risk of strain and deterioration. So, what exactly happens to our eyes during all this screen time? Let’s find out.
How do many hours of desk work hurt the eyes?
Ready for an eye-opening fact? The average office worker spends an average of 1,700 hours per year staring at a computer or phone screen. That’s a whopping 71 days or two and a half months! And that’s just the average, pre-COVID. Can you imagine what those numbers look like now?
When we’re glued to our screens for hours on end, we tend to blink less frequently, and sometimes, not at all. This reduction in blinking leads to dry eyes, and it’s not just a temporary discomfort. According to Professor Essen Akpek, an expert in “dry eye” at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, dry eyes can trigger a dangerous cycle. When our eyes become dry, it affects other activities that we do with our eyes, such as reading, which in turn increases our screen exposure time and exacerbates dryness.
Staring at screens for extended periods can also lead to momentary vision blurring, frequent eye irritation even when you’re away from the screen, and sudden tearing. It’s no wonder that after a long day of staring at Excel sheets or the like, we feel like we’ve just completed a grueling workout for our eyes. So, let’s learn to protect our peepers from the perils of screen time!
Discipline always wins
Who knew the simple act of looking away from your screen could do wonders for your eyesight? It’s true! According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, taking frequent breaks from monitors and screens can greatly protect our eyes.
Enter the 20-600-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20 second break and gaze at an object that’s at least 600 cm away. This allows your eyes to relax and rejuvenate.
We know, as busy humans, it’s easy to forget these kinds of things (especially when coding beckons). But with timers readily available on every phone, there’s no excuse!
And, not just for the eyes, taking breaks to move and stretch, take a walk, or simply look outside at the beauty of the world is good for your overall health too. So, don’t be a desk potato – get up, get moving, and give those peepers a break from the pixels.
Use your screen properly while working
Trying to keep your eyes healthy at work doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, it’s as easy as adjusting your screen settings!
Make sure your screen isn’t brighter than the surrounding light. That way, your eyes don’t have to work overtime and can focus effectively. To fix this, simply match the screen brightness with the room light. You can also increase the contrast and reduce glare by using a matte screen filter.
Don’t forget your body’s positioning, too! A good practice is to sit an arm’s length away from the screen and have it slightly angled downwards. And, make sure the air in the room is comfortable with adequate humidity and no strong drafts from air conditioning or fans. Professor Akpek agrees that these small adjustments can go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy.
Cry with artificial tears
Looking for a real solution to relieve eye strain? Look no further than artificial tears! These handy eye drops can be a lifesaver for those who spend long hours in front of computers or mobile devices.
With a variety of options available, both with and without preservatives, finding the right brand for you is easy and accessible – no prescription required! Just keep in mind that it might take a bit of trial and error to find your favorite. But hey, that’s just part of the journey, right?
Get your eyes checked regularly
Protect your peepers, folks! Don’t let eye strain or any other vision problem take hold – take proactive steps towards maintaining your eye health. And if you ever feel like something’s not quite right, remember: a professional opinion is always worth seeking.
We’re talking about a qualified ophthalmologist, the real deal, not just any old Joe with a computer in the office. They’ll help you determine if your symptoms are simply temporary eye strain, or if there’s a more serious issue at play.
So, get regular eye exams and nip any problems in the bud. After all, our eyesight is one of the most precious gifts we have, let’s do all we can to keep it sharp and healthy.
In the end...
All of us, who have desk jobs as a way of life, must prioritize our health. We should never downplay the impact of a desk job on our well-being. As we immerse ourselves in our work and chase deadlines, it’s easy to ignore the harm screens inflict on our eyes.
Whether it’s a traditional desk job like accounting or a tech-savvy profession like programming, our eyes are equally susceptible to strain. Neglecting the monitors that constantly surround us can lead to irreversible consequences.
So, take a break. No matter how tight your deadline is. Health should always come first, let’s not forget that!