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How To Relieve Computer Vision Syndrome And Keep Eyes Healthy

How To Relieve Computer Vision Syndrome And Keep Eyes Healthy

If you’re like many people, a lot of the job that you do during the week is computer-based. As a matter of fact, the American Optometric Association (AOA) estimated that the average American spends 7 hours a day on the computer (or tablet, e-reader or similar electronic device). While for many workers, this is an unavoidable part of the job, it can still lead to a problem called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as Digital Eye Syndrome. This condition of eye irritation appears to get worse with increased computer use – but is reversible. Read on to find out more about how to recognize and treat it.

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    How CVS is Diagnosed and Recognized

    The first step to understanding CVS is knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition. The AOA’s article on the topic goes on to outline the most frequent things to look for, including eyes that are dry or uncomfortable (in absence of problems like allergies) or feel strained as well as headache, blurred vision and pain or discomfort in the neck or shoulders. Also be aware that this can make other vision problems, such as astigmatism or far-sightedness worse.

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    If you believe you might be suffering from CVS, make an appointment with your eye doctor. They can give you a diagnosis based on your personal and medical history (including the kind of work you do and how long, on average, you spend on a computer or device on a daily basis), signs and symptoms you are experiencing, and tests to measure visual acuity and other visual skills.

    In the meantime, if you suspect that CVS might be a problem, the AOA recommends that you follow the “20-20-20” rule. This means that, if you are spending all day on the computer, then every 20 minutes or so, take 20 seconds out to gaze at something that is 20 feet away in order to give your eyes a rest.

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      Rules to Follow for Fixing CVS

      Apart from the “20-20-20” rule, there are other guidelines to follow that can help you protect your eyes from CVS:

      Rule #1. Avoid glare on your computer screen and experiment with lighting to make sure that you are not getting excessive light in the room, especially not from overhead fluorescent light which is particularly hard on the eyes. Experiment with curtains and shades to keep out excessive natural light as well.

      Rule #2. Be sure that your posture while working on the computer is supported by a good-quality chair and make sure that your computer is around 15-20 degrees below eye level and that your computer screen is around 20-28 inches away from your face. Positioning is everything!

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      Rule #3. If it is within your power, choose your computer wisely. The newer liquid crystal screens are supposed to be kinder to the eyes than their old counterparts and a dot pitch of .28mm and a screen size of at least 19 inches are considered ideal.

      Rule #4. Keep in mind that people who wear contacts or glasses are more prone to this eye strain. If you are a wearer, be even more aware of signs and symptoms to watch for.

      Rule #5. Blink often. Although you blink many times a minute just reflexively (without thinking about it), there are plenty of reasons why you should try to blink more often than this, the main one being keeping the eyes cleansed of particles and other being to keep the eyes moist.

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      Rule #6. Adjust computer settings so that the size and color of the background and font are as conducive as possible to give your eyes as much of a break as possible.

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        What to Do for General Eye Health

        If you do work in an office and are on the computer, there are a few things you can do that will help promote the general health of your eyes. One of the most important things is to protect your eyes from damaging UV rays of the sun with sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim when you are going outside, especially in the middle of the day when the UV rays are strongest. Make sure you go to an optometrist once a year for a routine eye exam and report any changes you have noticed: this can help your eye doctor catch and diagnose a problem early.

        Diet is also important to eye health: include things like carrots and sweet potatoes in your meals that are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant which supports visual healthy. Lutein is another antioxidant that is vital for this.

        In short, if you are like many office workers and spend long hours on the computer, you should definitely be aware of the issue of CVS – not only recognizing its signs and symptoms, but knowing what to do to treat or even prevent it.

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        Brian Wu

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        Last Updated on September 28, 2020

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

        Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

        One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

        When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

        So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

        Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

        This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

        Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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        When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

        Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

        One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

        Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

        An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

        When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

        Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

        Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

        We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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        By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

        Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

        While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

        I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

        You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

        Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

        When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

        Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

        Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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        Con #2: Less Human Interaction

        One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

        Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

        Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

        This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

        While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

        Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

        Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

        This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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        For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

        Con #4: Unique Distractions

        Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

        For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

        To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

        Final Thoughts

        Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

        We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

        More About Working From Home

        Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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