It's common for writers to work at their computers all day (and night), forgoing eye breaks due to bursts of inspiration, only to end the day with dry, tired eyes. I am entirely guilty of this and I figured it was time to stop complaining and do something about it. So after neglecting my eyes for over three years, I finally visited my eye doctor this week and here's what I learned.
Eye health is really important, especially for anyone wanting a career in writing and editing. I recently noticed that I was never giving my eyes a true break at any time during the day. Firstly, I would work for several hours at a time without looking away from the screen. Then in the evenings I might watch an episode of Dragon's Den or The Voice. And finally, before bed I would devour a few chapters of a book. In all that activity, there was never a time to rest my retinas.
Here are five ways you can improve your eye health starting today.
1. Get a regular eye exam. I waited too long in between exams and my eyes actually changed quite a bit during that time, which meant I'd been wearing the wrong prescription glasses for a long time. When you notice that you can't work a full day without tiring your eyes, it's time for a check-up.
2. Look away from your computer every 20 minutes. It's easy to tire the muscles in your eyes so make sure to look out a nearby window to expand your vision and move your eyeballs around to give them a stretch break. (For those keeners out there, this is a great time for a body stretch break too, to avoid stiff shoulders leading to headaches.)
3. Consider using a lubricating eye drop, preferably preservative-free. The average person blinks four times less when working on a computer, so it's easy to get dry eyes. Using eye drops will give you that extra bit of juice to power through your work without ending the day with red, itchy eyes.
4. Improve your diet by eating more leafy greens. According to this article in Health magazine, there are all kinds of eye-friendly, antioxidant-rich foods, including eggs, fish, almonds, and berries.
5. Get enough sleep each night. Obviously, closing your eyes is the best way to actually rest your eyes. But sleep is the body's natural way of healing and regenerating, so it can repair the day's damage on your eyes. Also, make sure to sleep in total darkness to benefit from a deep sleep.
6. Wear sunglasses in all seasons, in all weather, whenever you're outside. The sun's rays can damage and strain the eyes, so the best prevention is polarized sunglasses that cover as much of the eye (and sides) as possible.
7. Consider changing the color of your font to grey. Sometimes the mere contrast between black and white can tire the eyes. I experimented one day with changing my document font to medium-dark grey and I immediately noticed less stress on my eyes, and I've kept the grey font ever since.
Happy writing, editing, and coding everyone!