Wow! I just read results of a survey that reckons we square-eyed Brits spend a mind-numbing 128,780 hours per working lifetime sitting in front of some kind of electronic screen!
That’s a frightening number of hours no matter how you look at it, and is made up of estimated time watching television, using computers at work and at home as well as using mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets etc.
Worse is the number of screen users who, in spite of suffering from headaches, eyestrain, problems with close-up and long-distance vision, say they have NEVER visited an optician. One in ten claim never to have had a full eye examination and as many as 40 per cent remain unaware that they can claim a free eye examination from their employer if they regularly use a computer monitor at work.
Every day of my working life I am consulted by people who suffer all of these problems and more due to the demands modern life places on our eyes and visual system. Sometimes the solutions are simple, often a bit more complex, but with the correct eyecare advice as well as considerations such as posture and lighting, the situation should be improved.
‘Screen Fatigue’ – sore, itchy, irritated eyes or temporary blurring of your vision affects up to 90 per cent of VDU users at some time or other. So here are a few of my tips to help you avoid the worst of the problems:
- Visit your optometrist for regular eye examinations – the natural choice is, of course, Tomlinson Opticians!
- Explain to your optometrist precisely what the visual requirements are when you are in front of the screen, including distances to all items you are working on and size of detail etc, so that we can advise on the best solution for you – there are some fantastic new lens designs out there that can revolutionise your working life – let us help!
- Take frequent breaks – advice varies on this but my recommendation is frequent mini-breaks – so make a point of changing your focus to something in the distance and back to the screen every minute or two to avoid uncomfortable spasms of the eyes’ focussing system;
- As far as possible, set up the screen and other documents you might be working from so that they are at similar distances from the eyes and a little below your natural eye level to avoid constant refocussing;
- Think about lighting – the screen brightness should not be dramatically different to the brightness of the background and you should avoid glare caused by reflections of lights or windows on the screen;
- Choose a comfortable font size, ensure the screen is clean and set your screen contrast to a comfortable level and, finally
- KEEP BLINKING! There is evidence that the rate we blink at slows when concentrating on a screen, leading to the very common symptoms of dry, irritable, gritty eyes – blink regularly and consider use of artificial teardrops to keep the eyes comfortable if you find this a problem.
Remember, if you’re a regular screen user, your employer should provide (and pay for) regular eye examinations and the regulations state that where spectacles are required specifically for screen use the employer has a duty to cover the cost of these. Of course, if you’re self-employed, then these costs should be tax-deductible.
If you are spending the equivalent of almost 15 years of your life sitting in front of one type of screen or another, then let us help you make the experience as pleasant as possible.