How much do you stare at a screen every day? If you’re like the rest of us, the answer is at least a few hours. From working behind a computer all day to coming home and collapsing in front of the television for a few hours, we’re clocking an almost unimaginable amount of screen-time every single day. If you’re a blogger, professional or casual, the chances are that you’re spending even longer periods of time staring at your computer; research, writing, editing and rewriting take a tremendous amount of time, and if you’re not taking the proper precautions, your blogging might be taking a toll on your body.
Tension headaches, dry eyes and eye strain are all common complaints from people who regularly use computers. The computer screen’s blue-violet light is usually the culprit; it can accelerate age-related macular degeneration, but most people are totally unaware of it! Technology can greatly enhance our lives, but we have to be careful about how and when we use it. With no moderation, we can do serious damage to ourselves.
Even though that article really has to get done, or maybe it really should have been done yesterday, you should monitor the time you’re in front of a computer screen and keep it to a minimum. When you work at all hours of the day and night, you may be finishing that copy, but you may be hurting your ability to produce copy later in life. Eyestrain is a common complain among writers, but when we do things that exacerbate the problem, we can really only blame ourselves. The truth is, there are a number of relatively simple steps that we can take to reduce eyestrain and help to restore our sanity.
Eyestrain or CVS?
If you’re constantly struggling from eyestrain, you may need to see a doctor. Having eye pain or redness isn’t uncommon, especially for people who stare at computer screens all day, but for some people, eyestrain is more than a casual irritation. For these people, their eyestrain is caused by a condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS). If you notice that after using your computer your vision blurs or your eyes are more painful that normal, contact your ophthalmologist immediately. If you already wear glasses or contacts but you’re still experiencing varying levels of eyestrain, you may need a new prescription, so don’t assume that your eyestrain is normal.
The 20-20-20 Rule
The 20-20-20 Rule has been around for decades, but it’s something that we don’t typically think about when we’re working. If you’re not familiar with the 20-20-20 Rule, it’s fairly simple to grasp: every 20 minutes you take your eyes off your computer and blink rapidly; look at something about 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds.
Taking a break every 20 minutes, no matter how small, may seem like a problem for writers. We like to get into a flow and write until our thoughts stop, well, flowing, but it’s vital to take the health of your eyes into consideration when you’re working. A really effective way to incorporate the 20-20-20 Rule into your work routine is by coordinating it with another time-managing technique. For example, if you’re familiar with the Pomodoro Technique for time management and productivity, you can easily use it to gauge how often you give your eyes a break from the computer screen, just adjust the typical 25-minute intervals to 20 minutes. After every 20-minute work period, or “pomodoro,” simply take that opportunity to look away from your display.
If taking a break every few minutes is a pain for you and you’re not into the Pomodoro Technique, there are a few great apps available for your computer that will practically force you to take a break. Awareness is a great app that’s available for free for Windows and Mac. The app is a small timer that counts minutes between breaks and alerts you when you should take another break. While that seems simple enough, Awareness actually monitors your activity so that you feel more obligated to take your break!
If you’re spending hours in front of your computer screen every day, it’s really essential to take breaks and focus on not straining your eyes. When you’re working long hours or through the night, you may wear your red eyes as badges of honor, but you’re really hurting your ability to work in the long run