On a typical Monday morning I roll into the office and grab a cup of hot chocolate and settle in to read through many emails, which will be only the start of the approximately 8 to 9 hours I’ll spend on my laptop and desktop before the end of my work day. So, call it coincidence, or irony, as I sat down this past Monday and staring me in the face was this headline, “How patients—and communicators—can avoid digital eye strain.”
When a story like that comes across my desk, I often ask myself, “hmm, am I doing that?” I’m reluctant to open such stories, especially if I feel that I’ll be “called out” for doing something that I know better than to do. But, the practical side of me tells me that this is probably beneficial information for the social media side of the business for which I work (and perhaps, as a secondary benefit, I’ll learn some things that I just might apply to myself if I’m feeling humbled enough to put the information into personal practice).
As Christine mentioned earlier this week, we as health communicators can be a tough crowd, even when we often know better, especially when it comes to topics that are directly related to the work we are currently doing. And so this article on computer vision syndrome (yikes! That makes it sound a lot more detrimental than digital eye strain) piqued my interest.
More commonly known as digital eye strain, computer vision syndrome is “the result of prolonged use of computers, tablets, e-readers, cellphone screens, and TVs.” The average American worker sits in front of a screen for approximately 10 hours a day, which represents a 50 percent increase in the time spent on devices just within the past 2 years alone. (see infographic below). It really should be no surprise then that there are both physical and mental symptoms associated with digital eye strain, including: headaches/migraines, sensitivity to light, burning/stinging eyes, blurred vision and difficulty focusing, sore neck, decreased ability to concentrate, and reduced productivity.
But just because our jobs demand that we be behind a computer much of the day doesn’t mean that we can’t do things to alleviate some of these symptoms. Those things include: dimming the light in your personal work area, adjusting the brightness and contrast of your device while also keeping it free of fingerprints and smudges, and applying the 20-20-20 rule—every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds, at a distance 20 feet away.
So whether it’s your job, or binge-watching your favorite show that keeps your eyes fixated on a screen, remember to give your eyes a break. Your mind and body will thank you.