The adjustment from working in an office to doing long hours at a makeshift workspace in your home can have an impact on your body — including your eyes. If you worked in an office before the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably had a full-size monitor in a spacious, well-lit office. But now you may be working on a small-screened laptop in a cramped, darker space. Your new working environment might not be ideal for your eye health, says Bupa optometrist Karen Makin, but with a few adjustments, you can help prevent eye problems from developing.
When you’re looking at screens and devices for long periods — for work or leisure — Makin says it’s important to take regular hourly breaks. You could use this as an opportunity to stand up, get some water or take a short walk.
“Even if you just look out the window and change your focus, that will relax your eyes and give them a break from that constant focus up close,” she says.
If you’re working in a hot, stuffy environment with poor ventilation, that can put strain on your body, “which then will put unnecessary strain on your eyes”, Makin says.
It’s also important to get the lighting right.
“When you’re looking at a screen or paper, you don’t want shadows on the object that you’re looking at,” Makin says. “You want good, even lighting.”
A lamp directed on your work could help.
Make sure you have a dedicated workspace that allows you to maintain good posture.
“You shouldn’t read or work while lying down or on the couch, or half sitting up in bed, which can put strain on your body and therefore on your eyes,” she says.
When you’re looking at a monitor, make sure it is positioned slightly down from eye level.
“The most comfortable position of gaze for your eyes is not directly ahead, it’s just slightly downwards,” Makin explains. “You don’t want to be looking at a monitor that’s directly in front or up high, because then your muscles are moving, constantly working to lift your eyes up.”
Many of us are using gadgets and devices more heavily in home isolation than we might have done previously. These devices emit blue light, which affects your body’s ability to sleep and can also tire out the muscles of the eyes. In the evening, it’s a good idea to use apps that dim your screens and lower blue light, and avoid devices in the hour before bedtime, says Optometry Australia. A blue light filter can be added to your spectacle lenses to block blue light from devices.
If you have any concerns about your vision or eye health, contact the Bupa Optical team on 1300 664 142 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.