During the course of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Ottawa job market, like many across the country, took a huge hit. Our region has rebounded however, and we officially employ more people now, than what was recorded before the shutdown in February 2020.
With more people at work now than ever before, we have a new health concern; protecting our eyes from the office environment.
Working in an office puts our eyes at risk. Poor lighting and excessive time in front of a computer has a long list of negative effects, including (but not limited to):
– Blurred vision
– Disrupted sleep
– Dry and/or itchy eyes
– Eye pain
– Headaches
– Neck pain
– Upper back pain.

For these reasons and more, this article is dedicated to taking care of your eyes while working in an office.

Natural light should be used whenever possible. It’s not as harsh on our eyes as most overhead lights. Natural light also boosts our productivity, and improves our mood.

If there are no windows, opt for soft white LEDs. The typical overhead fluorescent lights that many offices in the Ottawa area have aren’t ideal. Fluorescents create light because an electric current excites a mercury vapor inside the bulb/tube. It can be tough to notice (especially in newer fluorescents) but the electric current causes the light to pulse on and off very quickly. Whether you see it or not, this flicker is hard on the eyes and causes migraines in many people. LEDs don’t flicker like this and are much easier on the eyes.

If anyone in the office is still using an old cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, it’s best to eliminate it. CRTs can’t adjust the brightness like today’s new flat-screen monitors. If you do upgrade your monitors, look for one that has a display with a dot pitch of .28 mm or smaller. This ensures sharper images and less eye strain.

When you have your new monitors set up, reduce the brightness. Most models don’t need to be set at 100% brightness. Try lowering it to 75% and then experiment with the brightness from there, to find the right level for you.

Many people are able to prevent digital eye strain by switching their PC to “dark mode” which (in a way) reverses the colour scheme your computer presents with. Any of the windows or tabs you have open, for example, will be black with white text, instead of the preset white with black text. You can also download blue light filters on your computer, it runs in the background, helping to filter or reduce blue light.

When your eyes are tired, they’re less able to focus. They have a harder time reading small fonts and the brightness from the screen begins to compound. Fortunately, the eyes are pretty easy to exercise, and you can benefit greatly from dedicating a few seconds periodically throughout the day.

When your eyes start feeling tired, sore, itchy, or dry, it’s time for a break. Look away at a distant object, this helps the eyes to relax. An easy rule of thumb is to look at something that’s 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, and you want to do this every 20 minutes.

Blinking also relieves the eye. It helps to moisturize them, preventing irritation. Studies have shown that we blink about 60% less than we should while staring at a screen.

Dry, tired eyes are common in office workers. As are headaches, neck and back pain. If these tips don’t help to relieve your discomfort, call us to book an eye exam. Speaking to an optometrist can help you develop a comprehensive strategy to manager eye pain while at work.