By Alastair Lockwood, eye health specialist and ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts
Whether you’re an asset manager, investment banker, city lawyer, C-suite executive, manager, PA, IT support or marketeer operating in the city, there is no doubt that you’re working in a challenging and fast paced environment.
The long hours culture is ever present and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Over the course of time, the early morning starts and late evenings spent in city offices can take its toll on your health. This is especially the case if much of your day is spent in front of a computer and smart phone screen. All that time in front of a bright screen coupled with air conditioning, heating and bright room lighting can have a negative impact on your eyes. In fact, extensive use of computers can lead to computer vision syndrome (CVS), where eyes become dry, tired and even strained.
While not causing any permanent damage, common symptoms of CVS (including eye fatigue, physical tiredness, eye twitching and red eyes) can cause a lot of discomfort and irritation in the short term. In addition, use of digital screens often limits the amount of time that we blink, therefore denying our eyes the hydration they need to stay moist and healthy. Dry eye syndrome is when our eyes have become dried out, as a result of tear ducts no longer producing adequate natural tears that our eyes need.
Here are some tips on how to avoid CVS and dry eye syndrome and keep your eyes in mint condition from the start of the day to the very end.
When you’re deeply focused on a task, you tend to blink less, even if you don’t realise it. If you’re not blinking enough, your eyes are not receiving regular hydration and moisture from your tears. As a result, your eyes will begin to feel dry and irritated. Get into the habit of ‘resting your eyes’ looking away and closing them purposefully, the eyelids are great protectors with lots of moisturising glands on the inside. I always follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.
It’s important to have the right level of office lighting. I appreciate that it’s a fine line between good lighting that provides enough illumination and bright lighting that borders on glare. You need comfortable lighting to be able to see all kinds of documents, but these must be ones that will not blind you. Also, the lighting should not be too dim as this will make you feel sleepy and less productive.
It may seem like a small point, but if you’re straining your eyes whilst at the computer then it might be worth increasing the size of the text.
Watch the brightness of your computer screen
It’s a good idea to check the brightness of your computer screen. If it’s set to the highest setting, turn it down slightly and see if it makes any difference to how your eyes feel. An incredibly bright screen can be very harsh on the eyes, so you can minimise glare by dusting your computer monitor and investing in an anti-reflection cover. Also take note of the lighting around your computer. Try to create equal brightness in your workspace so there’s no shadowy areas or glare from lamps.
Take a break
I know it can be difficult to take a moment to yourself in a busy city office with reports to write and deadlines looming, but a 5-10-minute coffee break can work wonders. Give both yourself and your eyes a rest from your computer screen so you’re not too burnt out by the end of the day. Aside from that, simply just looking away from your computer screen for a minute or so every now and again can give your eyes a much-needed break. When you do get back to your desk from your break, you must make sure that you’re not too close or too far from the screen. Your overall workstation set-up plays a role in your eye health. So being too close or far will cause eye strain. I recommend positioning monitors at least 50cm from eyes with the centre of the screen about 10-15 degrees below the eyes. That way, the light won’t be so intense and you won’t be craning your neck.
Wear the right contact lenses
If you wear contact lenses and you’re suffering from dry eyes, then you may want to opt for a silicone hydrogel lens. Dailies Total 1 is a daily disposable silicone hydrogel lens that offers a high level of hydration, clarity and comfort, as well as 16 hours of wearing time. This makes them perfect for long days in front of the computer screen and late nights finishing off reports.
Grab some H20
As a last note, make sure you drink plenty of water during the day to avoid dehydration, which, aside from making your eyes feel dry, will also make you feel drained overall.
About the author
Alastair Lockwood is an eye health specialist and ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts, a doctor and surgeon who is passionate about trying to stop people going blind from glaucoma – a leading cause of irreversible blindness. His research specializes in how to treat those patients who are unresponsive to conventional treatment, and he is in the stages of developing new models for surgery to treat glaucoma. His interest in research stems from undergraduate training at Cambridge University and clinical training at Oxford University. He completed an MRC funded PhD at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.