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6 ways to protect your eyes while working from home

Posted: Apr 16 2020

Protect your eyes during the Coronavirus lockdown while working from home

Now more than ever, it is important to look after and protect your eyes during the Coronavirus lockdown. Regardless of what job you do, whether you are working from home or heading out to the workplace environment you need to look after your eyes.

Staying home means we are using our computers, tablets, game consoles and phones far more than before.

As we are seeing across the majority of sectors, ophthalmic services have been reduced to the provision of an emergency only service in light of the restrictions due to the Coronavirus crisis, so it’s never been more important to look after your eyes.

Read on for expert tips from our ophthalmic surgeons.

1. Refrain from touching your eyes

We know that the Coronavirus can spread from tiny droplets formed from coughing or sneezing, but it is also spread if you touch surfaces where these droplets have landed.

Once these surfaces are touched, they can then enter the body from our hands through the eyes, nose and mouth. Given that we touch our faces throughout the day, it is not surprising the virus has spread so rapidly.

The key to preventing virus spread is frequent, thorough handwashing and sanitising – especially if you’ve been out and about touching items like payment pin-pads, shopping trolleys or holding rails on public transport.

Another difficult thing to do is to try and refrain from touching your eyes and face which is easier said than done. When it comes to your eyes, you should always use a clean tissue instead of your hand to wipe away any excess tears or touch your eye.

“My most important recommendation would be to refrain from touching the eyes wherever possible and if you do have to touch the eye area e.g. to put in or take out contact lenses, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly beforehand”.
– Mr Ali Mearza

2. Take particular care if you wear contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, you need to take particular care. You need to be meticulous with your hand hygiene when handling your contact lenses as now is not the time to be getting a contact lens related infection. In fact, one could argue, you’re better off wearing glasses for now.

If you do wear lenses, daily disposables avoid the added hassle with contact lens cases and solutions but be aware that some lenses have imperfections in them which can then irritate your eye. If you do notice any irritation, remove the lenses immediately and avoid using them until the irritation has settled.

If you are dependent on lenses for good vision e.g. keratoconus patients, then make sure you stock up on up to date cleaning solutions and cleaning products and follow the instructions carefully.

Once the Coronavirus crisis is over, you could consider having laser eye surgery to remove your need for contact lenses entirely. This will reduce your need to keep touching the lenses and your eyes.

Read about the advantages and disadvantages of both contact lenses and laser eye surgery.

Woman putting contact lens in

3. Reduce eye strain by drinking water and using eye drops

For most people, working from home has become the norm during this crisis, so it’s important to keep your eyes healthy. This does present some problems in that many will have switched from larger screens at work to smaller sized screens or laptop at home which can contribute to eye strain.

Keep yourself hydrated during the day by drinking plenty of water; it’s recommended to drink at least 2 litres of water each day. If you find your eyes are feeling dry and irritated, do use lubricating drops (artificial tears) as often as needed to keep your eyes more comfortable.

4. Take precautions when working in front of a screen for extended periods of time

If you’re looking for practical steps to help make life working in front of a screen work more comfortable, our tips can help whether you are working from home or in the office:

Take regular screen breaks

Set an alarm every 20 minutes to give your eyes a break. Take a walk around your house/flat and back. This gives your eyes a break but also helps to correct poor posture at the same time.

Adjust the contrast settings on your computer

Screen glare can cause eye strain, but good lighting can help reduce the effects. By adjusting he contrast settings to your surroundings can make the screen more comfortable to look at.

Adjust your screen distance

Are you sitting too close to your computer? The ideal distance from your eyes to the monitor is about 60-70cm. You should be looking down at your monitor, so that the centre of the screen is lower by an angle of about 20 degrees.

If you find your eyes are still straining, you can try to increase the font size to help reduce the strain on your eyes.

Get an eye test

If you have an untreated existing eye problem like myopia or hypermetropia, computer use is likely to worsen the effects. Regular eye tests with an experienced optician will uncover any vision problems and ensure that your eyes are treated with the appropriate prescription- be sure to book yourself in once the crisis is over.

5. Take time to perform eye exercises to ease eye strain

Working from home means you spend a lot of time looking at screens – as a result your eyes may feel dry, itchy or strained. To make them feel better, there are a number of different ‘eye workouts’ that you can do every day. Here’s our favourite exercises for you to try for your eyes, to ease the symptoms of eye strain that can occur as a result of working from home:

Focus workout 1

In a seated position, hold one finger a few centimetres from your eyes and focus on it. Gradually move your finger further away, while continuing to focus. After a quick break, look back at your finger and keep it focused as you move it back
towards your eyes.

Focus workout 2

This is a similar exercise, but with a wider range. It involves switching your focus between an object around 20cm away, and one around 5-10m away. For best results, repeat 5 times in one sitting.

Figure-of-eight exercise

Sit looking at the floor. With your eyes focused at a point around 5 metres from your seat, trace a figure-of-eight pattern. After 30 seconds, reverse the direction of your figure-of-eight.

6. Consider these foods for maintaining eye health

Diet is an essential part of maintaining eye health. The overall health of your eyes depends on certain nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants.

Eating foods rich in these nutrients (sometimes known as superfoods) can keep your eyes functioning at their best for a longer period of time, as well as helping to prevent various eye problems.

Read more here about the specific foods you can include in your diet to promote eye health.

By following these top tips and advice, it will help protect your eyes and keep them healthy during lockdown. Once the restrictions are eased, continue to practice these techniques and eat healthily to look after one of our most precious senses – of sight.