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Ways to reduce eye strain while working from home

During current times especially in the wake of this ongoing pandemic, work from home( WFH) has been ‘the way of work’ now. Even though work from home is not new to many, prolonged and continuous work and its consequences on health is something which we need to think and ponder about. 

Software and networking professionals, educationists and teachers, public and private sector officials, industrial and health sector to a certain extent are working from home now in the current scenario.

Let us now ask the basic question. We all know that in this era, one needs to be tech-savvy and most of the gadgets that we use like mobiles and other electronic devices are indispensable. 

So, what problems do these prolonged and continuous use of gadgets cause?

WFH and its consequences can affect the eyes, the musculoskeletal system including the back and shoulders collectively termed “ Computer Vision Syndrome”. 

People using visual display units or WFH may complain about 4 categories of symptoms

  1. Asthenopic- eye strain, tired eyes and sore eyes. These may be lasting for many days. Eyes may feel very tired especially as the day progresses more so during evening and night times
  2. Ocular surface related-. watering, irritation and dry eye (Burning and red eyes) 
  3. Visual- blurred vision, slowness of focus change (difficulty in switching focus between distance and near vision), double vision and color vision problems
  4. Extraocular -neck pain, backache and shoulder pain associated with headache.  Non-ocular symptoms can occur due to improper working conditions and poor posture of work. 

These will continue to cause the significant and growing contribution to diminished productivity at work while also reducing the quality of life of a computer worker

Why do all these visual symptoms occur?

The longer the use of computers, the lesser our blink reflex becomes. Our normal blink rate is around 16-20 times per minute. During computer/mobile use this becomes around 6-8 per minute. This reduced blink rate will decrease the movement of the tear film on the cornea thus causing non-wettability and drying resulting in various visual symptoms. Exposure to air conditioning, fans,s etc will also add to the drying effect. 

The characters seen on the screen lack contrast or well-defined edges compared to printed characters. Also, improper lighting conditions aggravate these problems.

What modifications can we opt for so as to reduce these problems in our work ergonomics?

We can certainly reduce the severity of these by adopting a few measures

  1. Following the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of work, changing the focus and looking into the distance( 20 ft)  for about 20 seconds will help a lot.
  2. Avoiding prolonged continuous hours of work by taking adequate breaks
  3. Using proper fonts, proper contrast, and choosing a proper background on the screen
  4. Adequate and appropriate lighting by reducing glare and using illumination preferably from behind the head
  5. Using anti-glare filters for the display units
  6. Positioning the screen so that it is below the eye level and about 20-28 inches from the eye
  7. Remembering to blink often so that the tear film wets the outer part of the eye and hence prevents drying
  8. It is advisable to work on desktops/ laptops rather than on smaller screen devices if working for prolonged hours

Most importantly, it would always be advisable to consult an ophthalmologist if any of the symptoms occur so that proper remedial measures can be taken. Any associated eye conditions also have to be diagnosed and treated. Wearing correct spectacle power, using anti-glare and computer glasses buy modafinil online are also of significant benefit and helps in reducing the problem. Using lubricating eye drops/artificial tears as prescribed by the ophthalmologist is very important for the proper control of the symptoms.

Using artificial tears and lubricants whenever required
Using spectacles for refractive errors and computer glasses

Computers/ mobiles/ visual display units are a quintessential part of our life. When this new normal era poses a challenge of working conditions as this, it is always imperative on our part to be equipped and take proper precautions and care so that we work with pleasure and not under pressure.