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Eye Fatigue: Management & Prevention

Office worker rubbing his eyes

Are you ever ⅓ into your workday and either come down with a mild wave of headaches, itchy, watery eyes or blurred vision after being in front of a computer for extended periods of time? If this has happened to you, chances are, you’re experiencing eye fatigue. A recent survey done by The American Optometric Association showed that the average American employee spends at least, “7 hours on the computer, whether at home or in the office.” The same survey found that “58% of adults have experienced eye fatigue as a result of excessive computer use.” Ok, so you may have eye fatigue, but just knowing about it certainly doesn’t help. Fortunately, we know a thing or two about how to overcome eye fatigue, so you can get through each work day with both eyes wide open.

What Causes Eye Fatigue?

Before getting into the best ways in which to soothe eye fatigue, or even prevent it, we must first understand where that uncomfortable feeling may originate. Eye fatigue, or as medical professionals call it, asthenopia, is caused by several things we do at we do at work each day without realizing it. These activities include:

  • Reading important work documents without pause
  • Exposure to bright lights or glare
  • Exposure to dry air from a fan or an air conditioning system
  • Excessive straining of the eye when trying to see in dim light
  • Poor set up of your workstation

Of course, for those whose occupation doesn’t involve being glued to a computer screen, eye fatigue can still occur when performing other activities that require focus for extended periods of time, or driving long distances.

The Key to Managing Eye Fatigue Is Easy

If you haven’t guessed, the answer to lessening or preventing the likelihood of eye fatigue isn’t surgical. And no, you don’t have to keep your eyes closed forever and hope for the best. The key to managing eye fatigue is actually much easier than you think. Here are the most effective ways to manage eye fatigue:

Use the 20-20-20 Rule.

This method isn’t just a play on words. It’s one of many ways you can prevent eye fatigue, making your work day more productive and less stressful. The rule goes as follows: Take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes, and focus on something 20 feet away.

Blink. A Lot.

Unless you’re having a staring contest with your fellow co-worker, many of us don’t realize how little we blink when concentrating on certain tasks. Blinking is actually your body’s way of lubricating your eyes and ridding them of potentially harmful toxins. The less we blink, the drier our eyes become, causing eventual eye fatigue. To prevent eye fatigue, it’s best to blink every four seconds to prevent dryness. It may be hard at first, but try to train yourself to blink as much as possible, especially at work.

Optimize Your Work Desk for Easy Eye Shifting

If a large part of your work day involves shifting your eyes from one computer screen to another, consider setting up your workstation to be more eye friendly. You can do this by making sure the objects you need for work are not more than a few inches away from each other. You can also , perfect your touch typing -  your  ability to type without looking at the keyboard. Both methods do well to reduce the amount of eye shifting, which reduces and prevents the likelihood of getting eye fatigue. If you want more workstation tips, take a look at this article.

Talk to A Professional.

If you’ve blinked so much that you view life as an old school, stop motion animation, or feel that your eye fatigue isn’t relieved with these strategies, it couldn’t hurt to seek a professional diagnosis. A quick eye exam may be in order to seek out what may be the measure of your eye fatigue.

Clear, uninterrupted vision is conducive to any work environment. There have been no studies to suggest that eye fatigue is a serious condition, but, if left unchecked, it can have a huge impact on the level of your work productivity. We highly encourage you to take care of your eyes.

You only get one pair, after all.

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