As a writer, you probably ask yourself all sorts of questions, but now ask this:
Are you making mistakes that can hurt your eyes while using computers and other digital devices?
Admit it, you spend most of your daily working hours gazing at a desktop or laptop screen, writing and checking your emails at regular intervals. To relax after work, you play games on your computer, tablet, or phone, read books on your e-reader, or watch your favorite movie or television program for hours.
But you know what?
You can hurt your eyes and develop symptoms of digital eye strain when you make certain mistakes while staring at all those devices.
According to the American Optometric Association, digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a group of eye and vision-related problems and discomforts that temporarily arise as a result of prolonged and extended usage of computers, tablets, e-readers, and cellphones.
Some of the most common symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and so on.
Though these symptoms are temporary for most people, the opposite might be true for others. In all cases, they’re uncomfortable enough to drastically reduce your ability to focus, concentrate, and be productive.
Want to take good care of your eyes and prevent digital eye strain as a writer?
Then keep reading to learn seven mistakes to avoid while staring at digital screens on a daily basis.
Working or playing on digital devices for extended periods of time is bad for your eyes in particular, and your health in general.
To correct this, you need to take regular breaks to deliberately look away from the screen and rest your eyes.
An effective method to consider is the 20-20-20 rule, where you look away from the screen every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In addition, you can also move away from the device to stretch, walk around, and rest your eyes for a few minutes before going back.
After spending the whole day in front of a computer, think of reducing your screen time and resting your eyes further by reading a print book, listening to an audio book, or listening to a podcast with your eyes closed.
In a nutshell, taking breaks and resting your eyes from digital devices at regular intervals will help you care for your eyes and prevent digital eye strain.
Did you know that staring at digital screens for a lengthy period of time negatively affects the way you blink and can cause dry eyes?
Normally, people blink about 10 to 15 times per minute, with each blink making it possible for a fresh layer of tears to be spread across the eye surface to keep them moist and comfortable.
But when working on a computer or using digital devices for too long with intense focus, people tend to blink less, which leads to dry eye symptoms like a burning or aching sensation, heavy eyes, red or sore eyes, and so on.
To avoid these uncomfortable symptoms, take steps to remind yourself to blink more often while using digital devices.
You can do this by setting reminders or posting notes on your computer. If you still seem to have trouble, consider getting artificial tears in the form of eye drops as a prescription from your eye doctor.
As a writer working on a computer for hours at a time, not using glasses or lenses with anti-reflective coating is another mistake you need to avoid.
Also known as AR or anti-glare coating, anti-reflective coatings on your glasses reduce eye strain by making your eyes comfortable during prolonged computer usage.
With the aid of technology, modern AR coatings have come a long way and can get rid of reflected light on the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses and allow almost all the available light to pass through the lens and enter the eye for good vision.
Apart from reducing eye strain, an anti-glare coating on your lenses also improves your vision and can make your eyeglasses more attractive since your eyes and facial expressions become clearer and more visible as a result.
Another mistake that’s bad for your eyes when you stare at screens all day is the use of font sizes that are too small.
Whether you’re working on your laptop or desktop, checking emails on your phone or tablet, or reading on your e-reader, make sure the font size you’re using is not too small or, on the other hand, too large.
In both cases, reading becomes difficult and uncomfortable, making your eyes do a lot of extra work, which can lead to symptoms of computer eye strain.
You can avoid this mistake by playing around with different font types and sizes to determine the most comfortable combination for your eyes.
Another thing to remember is that dark-colored text on a light background provides a great contrast that can make your text become sharply defined, more visible, and easier to read, helping you avoid eye strain in the process.
Can you believe that the screen of your computer, phone, or tablet may be too bright for your eyes?
Well, this is another mistake that can produce uncomfortable symptoms of computer vision syndrome when you stare at screens for too long.
Once your computer and other digital devices are bright enough to act as a source of light in a dark room, most likely they’re too bright. However, if they’re not bright enough to see information on them clearly and you have to squint, that’s also bad for your eyes.
At all times, it’s in your best interest to change the brightness of your electronic devices to match the level of brightness of your surroundings so your eyes can work normally without any form of strain.
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on the effect of blue light on our eyes.
While some people argue that blue light from computers and other digital devices usually reduces contrast and can give rise to digital eye strain, some others believe the amount of blue light from these devices is too small to affect our eyes in any significant way.
But you know what else?
In a study at the University of Toledo, it was discovered that continuous exposure to blue light from both digital devices and the sun can damage the eye’s retina and lead to a condition known as age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.
Going forward, you can err on the side of caution and protect your eyes as a writer by using blue light screen filters on your phones, tablets, computers, and all digital devices, or use special glasses or lenses that block blue light from both digital screens and sunlight on a regular basis.
Staying at the wrong distance or in the wrong posture while using your computer and other digital devices is a mistake that can lead to symptoms of digital eye strain.
But what’s the right distance and posture?
One, avoid staying too close to your device by keeping a distance of a few feet or around an arm’s length, which should make it possible for you to view the entire screen of your device easily.
Two, maintain a posture that allows you to look at the screen of your device straight at eye level or slightly below so you don’t have to continue looking up or down, which can put a lot of stress on your eyes, shoulders, and neck.
By maintaining the right distance and posture at all times, it becomes easier to prevent computer eye strain and avoid its negative effect on your productivity as a writer.
Let’s be honest, spending a huge amount of time on digital devices like computers, tablets, smart phones, and so on is a daily habit for you as a writer.
But you can hurt your eyes temporarily or otherwise when you make mistakes like not wearing anti-reflective lenses, not blinking more often, and not giving your eyes a break regularly.
Others include not choosing the right font size and contrast, not adjusting the brightness of your screen, not using blue light blocking glasses or filters, and not maintaining the right distance or posture.
By taking concrete steps to avoid all these mistakes, not only will you protect your eyes as a writer, you’ll also avoid all the unpleasant symptoms of digital eye strain that can rob you of your concentration and productivity.
Sola Kehinde is a freelance content writer for hire with 10+ years of corporate business management experience. She helps businesses of all sizes create engaging blog posts, case studies, guides, tutorials and eBooks that attract and convert. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her drinking green tea, watching movies or curled up with a good book. Visit her writing portfolio here.