We all know the feeling of having tired, burning and red eyes after an exhausting day working in front of a screen, yet very few people know how to classify these symptoms or what they can do to prevent them. These are the typical indications of ‘dry eye’. With targeted protective measures we can not only reduce eye strain, but also prevent chronic eye diseases. Preventive eye care shall become a daily routine, just like brushing our teeth.
Digital Eye Strain: Office Eye Syndrome
Screen use averages out to be 5 to 7 hours per day. It is expected that the level of strain on the eyes will also continue to increase in the next few years due to the increase of digitalisation. Frequent screen users only blink four times a minute instead of the usual 15 times. The consequence to this is an increased feeling of dryness as well as tired, burning, and red eyes and at times a foreign body feeling and watery eyes – the so-called ‘office eye syndrome’. The syndrome not only has a negative effect on a person’s well-being, but also on the productivity and quality of their work.
What are the symptoms of office eye syndrome?
Although the movement is tiny, blinking is essential for the health of our eyes. With the help of this “wiper function” the tear film on the eye is renewed at regular intervals. If we look rigidly at a screen, our brain forgets that blinking is an involuntary reflex. The system stalls and the surface of the eye is not adequately moistened.
What can you do about Office Eye Syndrome?
It is important to check that your own workplace is eye-friendly. Here are some tips to help relieve your eyes when at work:
1 – Wear screen protective glasses to help with dry eyes
2 – A good office chair ensures the right posture
3 – High resolution monitors cause less eye strain
4 – Keep a distance of at least 50cm away from your screen
5 – Make sure that you have the correct lighting.
In addition, you should always give your stressed eyes a little break. Take a quick look at the screen and let your gaze wander around the room.
Follow the 20/20/20 rule. This time time-saving technique helps to alleviate the strain on your eyes when working intensively in front of a screen. Focus your eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds on something that is 20 feet (approx. seven metres) or more away. As a result, the blinking frequency increases, and the tear film is regenerated, and the eye is lubricated better.
You should also not underestimate the climate in the office. Heating and air conditioning strain the eyes. Therefore, ensure a pleasant room climate by ventilating enough in summer and maintain a comfortable temperature in winter.
Preventive Eye Care
Eyes that are already strained react even more sensitively to repetitive strains due to screen use. Most people will only begin to experience the effects of eye strain throughout their later years. Therefore, taking preventive eye care measures will ensure that digital eye strain is minimised not just when the symptoms of dry eyes appear but even before. In addition to following the measures mentioned earlier, protecting your eyes with ‘artificial tear fluid’ will keep your eyes lubricated. Eye drops that contain hyaluronic acid, a well-tolerated substance will ensure a stable and long-lasting tear film. It is important to use eye drops that are preservative-free, as those that do contain preservatives, will further irritate sore eyes. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for the best product that suits your needs.