There are a couple of things in this world that annoy the hell out of me. People who blast their headphones up so loud, the people of Tibet can hear it. Another source of annoyance is people who can’t drive worth a damn and have no common road courtesy.
The final annoyance would be the one that hits me the hardest, and its eye strain. Painful, eyestrain brought about by years of working behind a computer all day long. It’s annoying as hell because I’d have to drop everything and rest my weary eyes, deadlines be damned. But the truth of the matter is it does hurt quite a bit. I recently called a friend of mine who practiced optometry and he gave me a couple of tips so that I could stay in the game longer.
- Regular Breaks and the 20-20-20 Rule. If you suffer from eye strain, take regular eye breaks. Force your eyes to focus on something other than the computer monitor during the course of your day. There’s a rule you can implement throughout the day, and it’s the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes, take your eyes off the screen and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can use your phone’s alarm for this task so you won’t forget. You can also try standing up and moving around for a few minutes, or leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed. Just make sure you let your boss know what’s going on or he might think you’re just slacking off!
- Artificial Tears. You can use artificial tears to lubricate your dry eyes. You can get these over the counter at any pharmacy, and use them as needed. Avoid getting eye drops that take the redness out because these can further aggravate your eye strain. Ask your doctor of pharmacist which one doesn’t contain any harmful preservatives so you can use the drops as often as you want.
- By all means, blink! We blink all the time. It’s second nature to us. But when you use the computer and your eyes and mind are focused on the task, regular blinking isn’t so regular anymore. When the blinking stops, tear production stops as well, leaving your eyes dry and un-moistened. Make a conscious effort to blink more often to refresh and moisten your peepers.
- Improve air quality. Avoid smoke, clear your workspace of any dust and try using a humidifier if you work in an air-conditioned office. You can also try lowering the thermostat if the room gets too cold to prevent dry eyes.
- Keep Calm and Chillax. Perform basic yoga poses and practice other relaxation techniques. The deep breathing in yoga can help relax your tense eye muscles. If you don’t have enough space in your office for yoga, try doing this exercise on your desk:
- Place your elbows on the desk, palms facing up
- Fall forward slowly and let your head fall into your hands
- Your head should be positioned in way that lets your hands cover your eyes and your fingers snake towards your forehead
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose; hold it for 4 seconds, then exhale
- Do this deep breathing exercise for 15 – 30 seconds, several times a day or whenever you feel your eyes need a break
6. Get a pair of Computer Glasses. Seriously, these things work. They’re specifically designed to filter out the blue light emitted by computer screens, reduce glare and improve the contrast of the screen so that your eyes won’t have to focus so intently.
Eye strain is a real pain the eyes, especially if your job entails sitting behind a computer all day. But this is all part of the many hazards when working with computers. By following the prevention guidelines listed above, you can prolong your computer use and hopefully, save your eyes from more debilitating problems in the future.