It’s Time to be More Concerned About Our Eyes and Less About Our iPhone

Posted by Elliot Chan

If you are a hardworking technophile like me, you may want to start addressing the fact that you are working too hard, relying on too much on technology, and staring at a computer/iPhone/Kindle screen for too long.

Odds are, you’re not reading this in a paper form, but on a screen—even though this is your break from work. News, entertainment and correspondence all happen on a computer screen; there is no avoiding it today.

But just because the zeitgeist has changed, does that mean our strained eyes are doomed as well?

Computer vision syndrome has proven my mother’s worries to be accurate: I might not go blind from watching a Mad Men marathon on my iPad but exhausting my vision and causing it to labour intensively over hours of work is not healthy.

Vision loss is often associated with aging and computers screens are not linked to any permanent damages to the eyes, but Canadians are still burdened by the financial weight of vision correction. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, $2.7 billion is spent annually on vision care. There are laser-eye surgeries and "retina" displays, but I believe it won't technology that saves our vision, but rather our own habits in areas of work, play, and sleep.

To avoid straining your eyes and exhausting your ability to work, I introduce "the three B's" to aid you in your seeing endeavours and to keep your eyes in “peek” condition.

 

BLINK

It’s been proven that those staring at a computer screen for a period of time will have longer intervals between blinks. This effect will cause the eyes to feel dry and irritated. Blinking lubricates the eyes, and that is a good thing regardless of what level you’ve achieved in your mobile game or how many typos you’ve found in your Word document.

Blink regularly while working; you may need to consciously remind yourself to do so.

 

BRIGHTNESS

It’s a balancing act; the amount of light in a room versus the brightness of your computer screen versus the extraneous light and glare seeping in through your office, home, or coffee shop window. Having a balanced lighting can reduce the strain and fatigue your eyes feel.

You want your computer screen’s brightness to match the brightness of the room. So move away from the window when you are on your computer. Extraneous light and glare will force your eyes to work harder than they have to, thus exhausting them faster. Consider drawing the curtains at various point of the day or purchasing an anti-glare screen filter.

 

BREAKS AND COMFORT

Taking breaks are important because the human eye is not built to stare at a screen for many hours. Experts recommend that workers take a 20 second break every 20 minutes by staring at something 20 feet away; this is known as the 20/20/20 rule. Find an object in the distance, maybe a tree or a painting and just check up on it occasionally. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in it.

While you are taking these breaks, consider your comfort and make sure your working environment is as ergonomically pleasing as it can be. A few things to note are the monitor’s height and distance. The best height is five to nine inches below your horizontal line of sight. Or in another word, you should be able to look right over the screen. In regards to the distance, if you can sit back in your chair and touch the screen, you are sitting too close.

No matter how hard working you are, neglecting your health is never okay; after all, an office job can be lethal. Sometimes you’ll just need to rest, and if your friends and family can’t convince you to take a break once in awhile and get away from the screen—well, hopefully your eyes can.

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Elliot Chan

Elliot Chan

Elliot is an editorial intern at Techvibes. After graduating from the Art Institute of Vancouver in 2008, Elliot worked in various areas of media and theatre production including acting, writing, directing, post-production and even stand-up comedy. Now he is a staff writer for New Westminster publication The Other Press and a content writer for Asian art and culture magazine Ricepaper... more




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