Most Australians are still working or studying at home as a result of COVID-19, with this way of working set to continue for some time. While some prefer remote working more than others, it’s important to set yourself up for success when thinking about your home office.

What was once a ‘quick fix’ solution at your dining room table, is now where you spend most of your time, and may continue to be this way for month or years to come. So we encourage Australians to revaluate their way of working from home, to ensure that they are looking after their health, including their eyes.

The way you set up your home office can have a big impact on your eyes. When setting up your home office space, you need to consider your eyes when thinking about best ergonomic practices - a completely different set up where your screen is closer or further away, at a different height, or in a room with different lighting can all impact your eyes.

Some research we commissioned just before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect found that the majority of Australian office workers were already experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain, with an overwhelming nine out of ten people claiming to have experienced at least one symptom of digital eye strain while at work. This has only been exacerbated by working from home where we are spending more time on screens than ever before.

A work area that is set up incorrectly can not only lead to poor posture and potential injury, it can also lead to symptoms of digital eye strain. Here are a few things to think about when working from home:

Think about your work from home set up

A good office chair

Safe Work Australia suggests an adjustable desk chair that allows your elbows to be at the height of the work surface with your shoulders and forearms relaxed. If you can’t reach the floor, use a footrest for support to avoid loading your lower back

Dedicate a space

Working from home every day can be a big adjustment for some, and it’s important that mentally you associate the space with work. Somewhere that you normally relax – such as the lounge or a bed, may not be the best place to work.

Set up your computer screen right

Your computer screen should be placed straight in front of you, about 60cm (about an arm’s length) from the screen and you should position the screen so that the top of the screen is at eye level. Where your screen is placed will be very important for your eyes, as this will determine what glasses you may require.

Consider your lighting

Lighting can be a major cause of eye strain and fatigue. Ensure you have adequate lighting, and consider if there is any glare, how the natural lighting changes throughout the day and if you require artificial lighting. Try using a matte screen filter to cut glare or simply cover your windows to avoid outside light shining on your screen. Also, if your screen glows brighter than your surroundings, your eyes have to work harder to see so adjust your screen brightness to match the level of light around you.

Give yourself breaks

Between checking your emails and attending virtual meetings, it can be quite easy to sit at your computer for hours on end. Make sure you get up and stretch your legs, back, shoulders and neck regularly. You also need to remember to give your eyes a break from the screen every 20 minutes.

Don’t forget to protect your eyes!

It’s also really important to look after your eyes when working from home and spending large amounts of time on a computer or in front of a screen.

If you're going from remote working or studying to a Zoom hangout with friends or family, to a marathon session of Netflix, your overall time spent in front of a screen may add up to as much as 10 or more hours a day. Our eyes aren’t meant to be fixed on a single object that long and it’s likely to have a negative effect on our eye health.

Here are some simple tips to help you reduce digital eye strain.

  • Blink! We normally blink about 15 times a minute. Make a conscious effort to blink as often as possible. This keeps the surface of your eyes from drying out. You might even want to put a sticky note on your computer screen reminding you to blink often!
  • Drink lots of water. Your eyes also dry out when you’re dehydrated so it’s important to keep up your fluid intake when sitting in front of a screen all day.
  • Follow the “20-20-20” Rule. Take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest : every 20 minutes shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 meters away, for at least 20 seconds. The easiest way to do this is to look out your window at something outside.
  • If you need glasses, consider a multifocal lens like SuperDigital. A truly revolutionary new lens, it’s designed with today’s visual multitasking demands in mind, suited to those with a digital lifestyle who spend a lot of time using digital devices. SuperDigital’s near vision zone (designed for digital devices held at 32-34cm) is designed to cater for the closer, higher position we hold our phones. Our team will work with you to understand your precise visual needs and recommend the most appropriate solution for you.

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