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Looking at a computer screen all day? 

With the future pointing towards a split between office work and working from home it is so important to keep a check on the time you spend staring at a screen. From experience, I know that hours can easily pass by with no breaks and no ‘eye breaks’ away from the computer screen.

Looking at computer screens can impact more than just your eyes. Many screens have backlighting comprised on blue light which has the potential to impact upon your sleep cycle. Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night can have an even greater impact. Researchers at Harvard university conducted an experiment comparing the effects of six and a half hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

How can you help your eyes?

The more straight forward thing to do is to cut down on your screen use, especially in the hour or two before bedtime. However, if you work in front of a computer, here are some tips to help.

Stay back!

If your computer is too close to your face, your eyes will have to strain to stay focused. However, you also don’t want the screen to be too far away! It’s key to try and strike a balance! The monitor should be positioned just below your eye level and about 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes.

Look at your computer settings

You may find your computer screen too bright or too dim for comfort, or maybe you have to squint to read a small font. Just play with your settings (zoom, brightness) and perhaps you can find a more comfortable setting that suits you.

The 20-20-20 break

Busy and you can’t leave the computer for too long? Remember, just because you can’t get away from the screen doesn’t mean you don’t need to give your eyes a much needed break. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your computer at an object about 20 feet away approximately 6m. Look at that object for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a chance to reset their focus.

If you’re having trouble with your eyes, check your screen use and look after them. However, if you are having persistent eye problems, it is always best to speak to your GP.