There are a lot of great things about living in a digital age – one being our ability to work from home if we need! In uncertain times like these, when we’re being advised to practice social distancing and self-isolation, your digital devices are vital.
They allow you to keep up with your loved ones, and get things done while not physically at your office/workplace.
However, all that screen time could be having a negative impact on your eyes. Do you know how to look after your eyes while working from home?
Blue light and your eyes
Blue light rays have the shortest wavelength of any part of the light spectrum. Sunlight is the main source of blue light – but while we’re spending so much time indoors, it’s likely we’re coming into contact with a lot of man-made sources of blue light, such as fluorescent and LED lights.
The display screens of computers, electronic notebooks, smartphones and other digital devices have significant amounts of blue light.
Interestingly, blue light scatters more easily than other visible light and is not as easily focused. But this isn’t anything to be worried about!
Some blue light exposure is essential for good health, since high-energy visible light boosts our alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and even elevates mood. However, problems arise when we get too much blue light. The amount of time people spend using their digital devices, and how close you hold these screens to your face, may be putting your eyes at risk.
People who have their screens too close to their eyes, and spending too much time looking at them (without breaks) may have issues relating to digital strain, macular degeneration and more. That’s why being ergonomic while working from home is so important.
Adjusting your body
Ergonomics relates to efficiency and comfort while in a working environment. One way to ensure your home office is ergonomic is to adjust your body so that you feel natural. Here’s a few key tips to do that:
- Adjust your chair so that your elbows are bent to 90 degrees when resting on your desk (where they would be if you were typing on your computer). This first step will impact the follow ones, so ensure you’re comfortable.
- While sitting straight at your desk, ensure your computer is about arm’s length away from you and the monitor is raised so that the top of the screen is about eye level. If you use a double monitor or laptop, use a stand to adjust the height.
- Don’t forget to stretch. We often work for long hours without breaks, but it’s important to make time for these small ways to avoid strain – whether it’s going for a short walk or just stretching your neck with your eyes closed while at your desk.
Ensuring your eyes can focus effectively is important, and by making sure your device is at the right height, you can do this. Stretching and taking breaks from the screen will also help, as it gives your eyes a little rest form all that blue light.
Glasses and computers
But what if you have glasses?
Firstly, it’s important to note that a pair of reading glasses are not the same as a pair of computer glasses.
A reading prescription is set at a closer focal length (approx. 40cm away from you) whereas a computer prescription may be set just for your screen distance away (generally at an arm’s length) or incorporate changes in the power across the lens to provide more flexibility.
The lens designs typically used for desk work and screens are known as extended reading lenses. As the name suggests, the areas for reading and intermediate vision are maximised with these designs.
The extended reading lenses provide wider intermediate and reading zones when compared to a multi-focal lens design. A multi-focal lens design will tend to provide a narrow intermediate zone and a small reading zone, which suffice for everyday activities but likely won’t work for everyone while reading.
An extended lens design is recommended for multi-focal wearers that have to scan a lot with the intermediate portion of the lens at their screen, and struggle to get comfortable reading vision.
Do I need blue light glasses?
With most of us spending over two-thirds of our waking hours looking at one or more computer screens at work, our smartphones before and after work, our smartphones or tablets during lunch, and then watching TV, using your home computer/laptop and smartphones or tablets when reading in bed after work, we’re exposed to many blue-light emitting sources every day.
Thankfully, a lot of devices (especially today’s smartphones) offer a less-straining back light option, often called night
shield or night mode. This option gives the device a lower brightness and often has a yellow tint, which is much easier on the eyes.
However, some people will still suffer from digital eye strain.
Another lens coating, that is beneficial for use on digital devices, is a blue light reducing anti-reflective coating. Perhaps users suffering from eye strain should consider this option.
These eyeglasses simply filter out the blue light, making it easier for you to read from your screen.
We recommend talking to a registered optometrist for their advice on an option that is best suited to you.