It makes sense to stay connected with friends and loved ones while getting stuff done for work and escaping routine with a good movie. But digital eye strain can cause a lot of drama that we really don’t need right now, such as headaches, dry eyes, or blurred vision. All this is easily avoidable if you set a few important screen rules, to rest your eyes throughout the day. Our opticians have put together 9 + 1 easy tips you can incorporate into your daily routine, and come out the other end of social distancing with healthy, crisp vision.
Get the right set-up
One of the main tips for working from home is to use the right equipment and set up, both for your physical and mental health. While staying in bed on your laptop seems like a good idea, it’s not really creating the best conditions for your back or eyes. Go for a desk or table with a large enough screen (so you won’t have to squint), positioned at eye level, and more than 40cm away. Play around with the brightness, contrast settings and font size to make sure they work with the room, as it will be different to what works in the office.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule
Try to take frequent breaks, as regularly as possible. Mark from HR can’t be around for your regular kitchen chats at the office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your legs, rest your eyes and check out what’s happening outside throughout the day.
But if you can only remember one rule, let it be the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from the screen for 20 seconds, at something that’s 20 feet away. That way, you’re giving your eyes the regular breaks they need.
This might seem a little trivial coming from someone other than your mum but just bear with us here. According to several optical studies, not only do we blink up to 70% less when looking at a screen, but when we do blink, our eyes don’t close completely. This means that tears don’t get the chance to cover the entire surface of the cornea, keeping it hydrated, which could result in them drying out. So try and be a bit more conscious with your blinking throughout the day and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Stick to your lens wearing pattern
Using contact lenses during the coronavirus outbreak remains just as safe, as long as you up the ante on the hygiene front. Experts recommend sticking to your daily routine as much as you can at home, which includes holding onto your lenses and following your contact lens routine to the letter. Sleeping with your contact lenses in has always been one to avoid, so it should still be on top of your list. If your optician advised you take your lenses out when you get home from work, remember to do the same now too, even though your work station might only be 3 steps away from the living room.
Mind the lighting
Ideally, your workstation should be in a room with a window and natural light, as daylight and a bit of fresh air will work wonders on your mental wellbeing. Position your screen in a place that will stop any sun rays from reflecting onto your screen. If you need a bit of extra light, try a desk lamp with an LED bulb, as they’re more energy-efficient and provide softer, healthier light for your eyes.
Do you know what the best way to avoid dry eyes is? Drinking more water (we promise your mum didn’t pay us to write this too). It seems so simple, but the more water you drink, the more comfortable your eyes will feel (let alone all the other health benefits you’ll get!) So now you know, try to always have a glass of water by your side, as that will help you to drink more of it throughout the day.
Eye drops for days
There are still many people who have not discovered that little miracle called eye drops. If you are one of those who think that they should only be used in extreme cases of dry eyes, think again.
Eye drops don’t only soothe your eyes instantly, but if you apply them with your lenses on (check which ones yours are compatible with), they also clean them from impurities and protein deposits. The double benefit is that they give a boost of freshness to your eyes, we never get tired of raving about them!
Limit kids’ screen time
Not only do we have to work from home, but we also have to do it with kids running around too! It can be tempting to switch the TV on or pass them the tablet to entertain them for a while, so you can get things done. As it’s an all-round stressful situation, we can’t expect to cut all screen time for kids - but where possible, try and take entertainment offline. Get them to draw more, plan simple chores around the house they can help with under the guise of a game, and when the working day is over you can do crafts together (such as this simple slime recipe with contact lens solution). There are plenty of options!
Massage your eyes
If a back massage feels like a gift from above when your back is sore, why don’t you try the same for your eyes? When they feel tired and strained, give them a gentle massage. Softly make circles over your closed eyelids with a bit of eye cream, and apply light pressure to your eyebrows and eye bags for a bit of extra relief.
Get an eye test
We know, we know, the important thing right now is to stay at home. So even though the advice may not be possible at this moment, we want to add it as a +1 to go on the post-isolation list: if you haven't checked your vision for a while, make an appointment for an eye test. Your optician will not only check the overall health of your eyes and prevent diseases such as glaucoma, but they will also be able to prevent others that are not directly related to vision, such as high blood pressure.