by Lyne Desforges
Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Culinary Nutrition Expert
Your Eyes in the Digital Age
It is a well-known fact that we are spending more and more time looking at screens and the pandemic has only exacerbated that fact. With virtual learning and Zoom meetings now commonplace, it is no wonder that we are starting to see some effects on the eye health of children, teens, and adults of all ages. These ill-effects have been grouped under the term Computer Vision Syndrome and it encompasses a host of ill-effects such as dry eye, eye strain, blurry vision, headaches, aches and pains, etc.
However not all is lost. By following some of our lifestyle suggestions, you may be able to mitigate, reduce, or eliminate some of these symptoms.
Top 10 Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Eyes
Wear Computer Glasses
First get your eyes checked by your optometrist to ensure your prescription is adequate for computer viewing. There are lenses prescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing. These include blue light blocking lenses, tinted lenses, special designs and anything else that will help maximize vision and comfort. This will help reduce eye strain.
Ensure you have proper posture when working at your desk for long periods of time. Whether using a chair or stand-up desk, you want to ensure your eyes are almost level with the screen while your back is straight. This will help reduce neck, shoulder, lower back and hip pain.
(Source of photo: https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/health/correct-sitting-posture-computer-desk)
Research has shown that we blink 66% less when staring at a screen. You may have to remind yourself to blink often and fully, to ensure you lubricate and nourish your eyes. If you still are experiencing dry eyes, consider using eye drops. Keep them close to your computer so you remember to use them. You may want to consult with your optometrist for the best eye drops to use.
Try using a large screen or large fonts to ensure ease of reading and to reduce squinting at the screen. Your monitor should be about two feet from your head. You can use a matte glare filter to decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen. Change the colour or brightness of your screen based on the time of the day so you are not straining your eyes. There are many apps you can use, such as f.lux, to help with this.
Position your computer screen away from a window to avoid glare or get blinds/curtains to help reduce the glare. Low-level and glare-free ambient lighting is best for overhead lights. Use low wattage desk lamps that shine down rather than directly at you. All these will reduce eye strain.
Practice the 20-20-20 rule
The 20-20-20 rule is very simple. When working on your computer, work for 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away at a spot 20 feet in the distance. This can help reduce strain and fatigue on eye muscles. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to do this.
The temperature, humidity, and general quality of the air may contribute to dry eyes. Sit away from air ducts if possible. Consider installing a humidifier and air purifier in your office space to reduce air pollutants and ensure optimal humidity.
Take a Break
Set a timer and walk away from your screen every hour. Take 10 minutes to stretch, grab some water, and move your body. Not only are you giving your eyes a break, you are also reducing the effects of sitting for long periods of time: stiff joints, general aches and pains, etc. Consider investing in a stand-up desk to avoid sitting for long periods of time.
Shut It Off
All digital devices emit blue light. This affects your production of melatonin, your sleep hormone. It is strongly recommended to shut everything off at least an hour before bedtime to ensure proper sleep. Consider doing a digital detox. That means spending a full day (or part of a day) away from any technology. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much fun you have exploring and rediscovering the simple pleasures in life.
Hydrate and Nourish Your Eyes
Ensure your intake of water is substantial enough to keep you whole body, including your eyes, in optimal health. Eat a whole foods diet, rich in colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure you get all the best nutrients for your eyes.
Everything In Moderation
Remember that everything is moderation will help you to lead a more balanced and vibrant lifestyle. Too much time spent on screens means less quality time with your loved ones. So shut it all off regularly, get outside, play, read, move your body, get some self-care, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. If you need any support with these and other lifestyle tips, consider seeing one of our healthcare practitioners. We are all here to help you achieve a balanced, healthy, and vibrant life.