Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

8 Tips for Easing Eye Strain in the Law Office

 Eye ExamWe don’t normally think of law offices as dangerous places to work.

Yet we know that daily typing on a keyboard can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, and cradling a telephone to the ear can cause neck pain.

Now comes research that indicates prolonged sitting can increase one’s risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

A less publicized office peril  – probably because its ill effects are more subtle than a throbbing wrist or a aching neck – is eye strain.

But anyone who has spent time staring at a computer screen has felt the pain. And these days, even when we leave work our poor peepers are glued to iPhone, tablet and PDA screens that are getting tinier all the time.

There’s even a fancy name for it: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

Symptoms of CVS include blurred vision, burning, stinging, photophobia and a need for eyeglasses. A recent study shows that 1 out of 6 patients who go in for an eye examination has a computer-related eye problem.

But CVS is more than just a health concern. It decreases office productivity and morale. And it increases the likelihood of mistakes.

8 Ways to Save Your Eyes at Work

  1. Use the 20-20-20 solution. Every 20 minutes, take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away.
  2. Blink. People who stare at computers blink 60 percent less often than those who don’t. This dries the eyeball and causes irritation. Get in the habit of looking away from the screen and taking a nice long blink. Lubricating eye drops can also help.
  3. Get an eye exam. Computer users should have their eyes checked once a year, says the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  4. Use good lighting. Excessively bright lights and overhead fluorescent tubes are bad. Floor lamps – especially those that provide indirect incandescent or halogen lighting - are better. Position your monitor or screen so that windows and artificial lights are to one side, not in front of or behind you.
  5. Reduce glare. This can come from shiny walls, mirrors and framed pictures. Cover windows to cut down on outside light. An anti-glare screen on your monitor may also help.
  6. Get a better monitor. Replace old tube-style monitors (cathode ray tubes or CRTs) with a flat-panel LCD display. Pick one with the highest possible resolution.
  7. Adjust the settings. The brightness of your display should match your workplace surroundings. Black print on a white background is easiest on the eyes.
  8. Take a break. Get up and move around every half-hour or so. Your increased output will make up for the “lost” minutes. Regular breaks will also ease stress on your neck, back and shoulders.

The eyes don’t always have it in the law office. Follow these steps and see your way to a happier – and healthier work life.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He sometimes sees things that aren’t even there. Contact him at LinkedIn or email, phone 919-619-2441.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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