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Summary:

Knowledge workers tend to abuse their eyes. I know, because I’m guilty of doing it; my nearsightedness has gotten progressively worse since I started working. The only way to slow it down is to take better care of my eyes.

Knowledge workers, whether out of need or out of habit, tend to abuse their eyes. I know, because I’m guilty of doing it, and my nearsightedness has gotten progressively worse since I started working. The only way to slow it down is to take better care of my eyes.

But those with existing eye problems aren’t the only ones who need to pay more attention to eye care. Long hours spent staring at a computer screen lead to headaches and eye fatigue — and who needs that?

The Risks

One of the more common risks of extensive computer use is eye strain. You know you’re experiencing this when your eyes feel sore or tired, sometimes to the point of causing pain. Sometimes your eyes may end up being watery, or they may feel too dried out; the symptoms vary from person to person. If your eyes feel discomfort after a visual task, such as reading or watching TV, then you’re experiencing eye strain.

When eye strain is ignored and you don’t take care of your eyes in general, you may increase your risk of having more serious eye problems, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or glaucoma.

Resting Tired Eyes

The key to preventing eye strain is to take breaks throughout your workday. This can be difficult, especially during stressful days with heavy workload or even those days where we feel very motivated to work and we simply want to take advantage of the burst of inspiration; it’s hard to pull ourselves away from our computers. This is where reminders come in. You can use a simple kitchen timer or even install break reminder apps. As long as you step away from the screen every hour or so, you can minimize your risk for eye strain.

The best thing to do during this break is to spend some time outdoors. This allows us to focus our eyes on far objects. Natural light also helps children prevent myopia, but it’s unclear how beneficial sunlight is to adult eyes.

If going outside is not an option, do eye relaxation exercises. I’ve covered a couple of exercises in a previous post.

Also, don’t forget to blink! This may sound like common sense but people who are too focused on surfing the web or reading forget to blink regularly, causing their eyes to dry out. The problem is common enough that a Japanese company has created USB-powered glasses that force the wearer to blink frequently.

Prevention and Protection

If you want to protect your eyes and prevent long term damage, the first place you should look at is your home office. Whether it’s just a desk in the kitchen or a separate room, you should start by making sure your workspace is properly lit. Any glare and harsh contrasts in your environment can contribute to your eye strain.

You should also be aware of your monitor’s settings if the light in your workspace changes throughout the day. Tweaking your monitor’s brightness and contrast based on the ambient light helps reduce eye strain. If you want a detailed guide on how to do this, check out Charles Poynton’s extensive article on the matter.

It might also help to lessen our dependency on the computer screen, if possible. Since I’m a freelance writer, I sometimes use speech recognition software so I can speak my first draft into a microphone rather than stare at the screen. For visually dependent tasks such as graphic design, tough, this kind of workaround isn’t really possible, although perhaps you could try sketching onto paper instead of working on screen for some of the time.

Finally, we should all regularly take eye exams. By consulting an eye doctor, we can prevent major problems as well as track the health of our eyes over the years.

How has being a web worker affected your eyesight? How do you protect and rest your eyes?

Photo by stock.xchng user Henkster

By Celine Roque

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  1. F.lux is a great app for helping with eyestrain. It is set up to automatically change the color temperature of your display from day to night, so you’re not being blasted late at night with super-harsh bright screens.

    http://www.stereopsis.com/flux/

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  2. A few tips I have compiled over the years:

    1. Never sit with a window behind your monitor. It may be nice to look and see the view, but it plays hell with your eye sight due to the large contrast

    2. Eyes need exercise in terms of looking at thing near and far away. Sitting at a computer keeps your eyes pretty much focused at one thing all the time. Easiest way to solve this is to mount a small mirror just above your monitor on the wall. Then when you look up and into it your eyes get a break and can focus on something much further away.

    3. Nothing refreshes eyes quicker than splashing some cold water on them. Spend a minute outside after doing this for added effect.

    4. Don’t start looking at a screen for at least 30 minutes after waking up. Your body is just getting going for the day so moisture can be a bit lacking in the eye department. if you really have to do this the cold water splash helps.

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  3. [...] How to Take Care of Your Eyes http://webworkerdaily.com/2010/02/17/how-to-t…your-eyes/ в Любими преди 55 секунди edno23.com Начало контакти [...]

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  4. Some ten years ago I had to stop my freelance business as a desktop publisher because of eyestrain. My eyes started to ficus real slow like a digital camera with worn out batteries. Since then I look outside the window more often. It also helps to use multiple monitors on different distances. My main monitor is in front of me but things like mail is watched on the laptop monitor on the left of me.

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  5. there are many things to relax your eyes.

    how to get better vision

    best of it is that you just put down glasses and watch without force. You can walk, ride bus, listen to radio.. etc
    i’m gonna write a post when i find out how to live normaly with avoiding using glasses;D

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  6. [...] those who spend all day at screens, how to protect your eyes, by Celine Roque at Web Worker Daily. One of the more common risks of extensive computer use is eye strain. You know you’re [...]

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  7. Awesome post. More and more people are spending so much time in front of computers, playing video games, looking at smart phones! One of our VSP Vision Care doctors blogged about CVS and has some additional tips:

    1. Overall you want to minimize your eye, head and neck movements to prevent strain.

    2. Angle your computer monitor so it is at the same angle as the material being typed. Ideally, the screen should be lower than your eyes at about a 15-degree angle. Attach a paper holding device to your screen if you spend a lot of time in front of the screen.

    3. Upgrade your monitor to an LCD screen. These screens usually have an anti-reflective surface. Older CRT screens have a noticeable flickering of images that may cause eyestrain.

    4. Use comfortable furniture to maintain a very comfortable position, one in which you are not constantly shifting around to see the computer screen.

    5. Anti-glare screens not only filter UV radiation, they allow for a perfect focus situation where you are not bothered by the reflections around the work place.

      1. A light tint on specially prescribed computer eyeglass lenses will help to improve contrast and reduce glare and reflections.

    The entire blog post can be found here: http://bit.ly/3eyn5v

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  8. thanks for all the process. It did!

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  9. Try EyeCare – save your vision iPhone/iPod app
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eyecare-save-your-vision/id388194171?mt=8

    This useful app helps you to remember to take regular eye breaks following the recommended 20-20-20 rule encouraged by American Optometric Association. This can prevent Computer Vision Syndrome (e.g. eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, etc.) and maintain healthy vision.

    Hope this helps you.

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  10. Thanks to this article.. I thank also the comments on this website, it gives me more idea on how I protect my eyes.. Because I’m a web developer and working for at least 10 hours a day.. I also found a software that help you manage your time in working with computers here is the link http://www.workrave.org/ .. I also used this software to manage my time..

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