Working in an office environment is likely to entail spending most of your day in-front of a screen. Be it a desktop monitor, laptop, tablet, or phone screen, staring at a bright screen for most of your day combined with concentrating, researching and completing tasks can really drain you and your eyes. Looking after your eyes and giving them a break is vital in maintaining your productivity and ensuring your eye health is at its best.

The general recommendation for screen-use, as reported by Look after Your Eyes, is that the screen should sit at, or just below eye level, with the distance of the screen from 40-76cm (16-30 inches) away from you - whatever’s comfortable. Of course, for screens on tablets, laptops and phones, the angle and distance may differ; just ensure there’s maximum comfort and minimal strain on your eyes by adjusting accordingly.

The HSE document 'Working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE)' complies with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992; for designated workstations and screen reading, the follow advice is given:
  • Make sure individual characters on the screen are sharp, in focus and don’t flicker or move. If they do, the DSE may need servicing or adjustment.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
  • Make sure the screen surface is clean.
  • When setting up software, choose text that is large enough to read easily on screen when sitting in a normal comfortable working position.
  • Select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on a blue background or vice versa).
In an office room with artificial lighting, the yellowish bright lights may not mix well with prolonged screen use, and the glare can put strain on your eyes. Most forms of computers have the option to adjust brightness, with extra ease on tablets and laptops, and so paying attention to the brightness of your screen and whether a lower brightness might be more comfortable for you is something to note.

Natural lighting tends to be the better option for your eyes so an office with windows, letting in a good amount of daylight is healthy. However, with this comes the potential glare from sunlight onto the screen, disrupting your view, so both artificial and natural lighting have downfalls. Having easy-to-adjust blinds to create shade in heavily windowed offices is a good way to allow workers to use them accordingly, to ensure screen work can continue to be completed without difficulty.

There’s also a risk of experiencing dry and sore eyes if sufficient time away from the screen isn’t taken.  The NHS reported on a small study carried out in 2014 in Tokyo, by researchers from Keio University. It looked into the effects of prolonged screen use and dry eye syndrome – a condition where the eyes fail to produce enough tears and experience dryness, itchiness, pain and redness. The study concluded that while only 9% experienced symptoms of the dry eye syndrome criteria, a majority did experience some signs or symptoms of dry eyes in one way or another, concluding an association between work-time spent in front of a screen and eye dryness and health.

Perhaps the most obvious and best advice to look after your eyes is to take regular breaks from the screen and the room, to make a hot drink or use the bathroom for example, escaping the possibly-artificial atmosphere and screen, giving your eyes a rest. Finding comfort in the technology you use and how you use it is also important, looking into different layouts and setups of workstations, from a desktop computer on a desk, or relaxed areas for use of laptops or tablets.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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