On average, Americans spend 8.5 hours in front of a screen every day. When I read this statistic, I was shocked, but it actually makes perfect sense. Between sitting at a computer for work and watching TV to wind down at night, I’m actually surprised that number isn’t higher.
People are generally cautious about eating well and taking time away from their desks for short walks or some sort of exercise at work. We all know, though, that there’s a lot more to health at work than just eating well and being active – and there are a number of negative health effects your computer may be having on your body. Working on a computer all day can cause eye strain, headaches, and posture issues. If you’re someone who relies on your computer to do your job like me, read ahead to learn how to manage other areas of your health at work, besides the usual diet and exercise.
Digital Eye Strain is The Con of Remote Work
We all know what it feels like to stare at your phone or television or hours – no one ever feels their best after scrolling through Instagram or a binge watching Netflix (okay — that’s debatable — but still). Staring at your computer has the same affect; after several hours working at your computer you can feel symptoms like eye strain and headaches. The Vision Council coined a term for this feeling – digital eye strain.
After surveying and research, The Vision Council realized that many people who use computers, phones, and TV for at least two hours a day feel uncomfortable. If you’re someone who uses a computer a lot, you might feel these effects early in your day and your productivity can suffer. Luckily there are things you can do to help prevent the physical symptoms like headaches and blurry vision!
Why Do these Symptoms Occur?
Blue light, a wavelength containing a high level of energy within the visible light spectrum, is the root cause of this problem. Since the eyes aren’t good at naturally filtering out this high-energy lightwave, there are extra steps we can take to help block it to avoid digital eye strain issues in the short-term and retinal damage in the long-term.
For starters, it might be smart to look into blue light glasses (which I wear). This fairly new option helps to filter blue light and plus, they are a fashion statement! You can switch up your look at work with affordable frames that are an easy and effortless way to help you focus on your health.
Fortunately, there are also apps available that dim your computer screen to match the lighting of the room you’re in, which helps reduce the strain on your eyes.
Finally, you can simply take breaks from looking at your computer to help avoid discomfort. Getting up from your desk every hour or lightly covering your eyes for a minute can help your eyes readjust to the light in the room, which gives them a break from the high-energy light. This was the good part about me having a dog — it forced me to take a break — which is good for my eyes.
These easy additions to your workday will help reduce eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches, but it’s important to be aware of the neck and back pain that can be caused by sitting at your computer as well!
Beyond Your Eyes
Have you ever been sitting at your desk and noticed pain creeping into your shoulders or neck? You’re not alone. Sitting at your desk and looking at your computer can cause lifelong posture issues.
It’s important to be comfortable at your computer to ensure you’re working as efficiently as possible. If your computer is set up too low or too high, you can cause harm to your neck, back, and shoulders by looking too far up or down. Be sure that the top third of your monitor is eye level and about an arms-length away so you aren’t straining yourself to see the full screen. Think 90 degree angles.
Can You Personalize Ergonomics?
If you already have back pain, wrist issues, or leg pain from sitting at your desk all day, personalize your space for your comfort. Consider a new ergonomic chair that will support you as you sit or a foot rest to allow more lower back support, if you already have existing back issues. For me, I like to sit at my comfy reading chair.
Sitting for extended periods of time is also bad for the body. If you’re concerned with sitting at your desk all day, invest in a platform that can transform your area to a standing desk. This way, you can shift between standing and sitting at your leisure to reduce back pain, posture issues, and boost your health! Of course, I don’t like standing desks, but half the time I’ll be sitting in my bed.
After looking into this more, there’s no denying that working on a computer all day can cause physical discomfort to your body. The unfortunate reality is that your eyes, head, back, and neck can all be strained from just doing your job. Luckily, these small changes – like buying desk accessories, taking breaks, or using apps – can better your health at work even if it is at home. Your employer may even provide allowances for these products.
What’s the Takeaway?
No matter what health issues stood out to you in the post, do your research and ensure you’re doing all you can to keep your health top of mind at work. Your body will thank you for it. And — as an extra added bonus — you will be much more productive.