Are you left feeling “blah” after a long day of design work? Got headaches, fatigue, blurry vision, or neck pain?
No, it’s not from that annoying client who won’t stop emailing you: it’s from your eyes! Digital eye strain, to be exact.
Our eyes weren’t made to stare at screens all day long, but the demands of our modern world require it of us. Designers especially can’t forego screens, since almost ALL design work is done digitally these days.
So, what’s an entrepreneur to do? It feels like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: healthy eyes and added stress about having to leave your work unfinished, or putting in a full day and feeling like a sack of poo when it’s all done.
But…you actually don’t have to choose between those two options. You can minimize your eye strain while still plugging away at your work, as long as you make a few changes to your setup and habits.
5 simple ways to get eye strain relief that don’t involve less screen time
1. Proper computer setup.
Like you’ve probably been told many times before, a proper desk/computer setup will help with muscle pain associated with stationary (or stationery, for you print designers) work. It also helps relieve eye strain, too!
The basics are covered in this extremely useful infographic from AiraWear, or you can check out their blog post on ergonomic workspaces for a in-depth guide to setting up your workspace optimally.
2. Giving eyes a quick break.
I’m not talking a reduction in screen time here. I mean look away from your screen for about twenty seconds every twenty minutes, and focus on something at least twenty feet away. This is known as the “20-20-20” rule of computer work. You also want to be sure you’re blinking enough, since people tend to blink less when working at a computer and it can dry your eyes out quickly.
3. Controlling your monitor’s color temperature.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that the blue light emitted by our beloved electronic devices isn’t great for us, especially in the evening hours. Not only can that blue light disrupt our sleep, but it can be hard on our eyes as well!
To counteract that bad blue light, you should use some kind of tool that helps you control your monitor’s color temperature. Some operating systems have that built-in now (like Night Shift for OS X), but my favorite tool is a little gem called f.lux. You can even disable f.lux by application, so that when you’re doing color-sensitive work at night, you don’t have to worry about the colors coming out all wrong.
4. Try some computer glasses.
There are pairs of glasses that claim to help reduce eye strain when worn while working on a computer. I have personally tried Felix Gray, but I know Warby Parker makes a blue light filtering lens as well if you prefer them.
I did notice a little bit of a difference when I wore my computer glasses (Felix Gray Faraday, if you’re curious), most noticeably in the magnification of my screen (useful!) and a shift in the colors of my display (not so useful since I work in collaboration with designers and need to see colors accurately). If you want to give them a try, I’d recommend not getting the sleep glasses for that reason. Then again, it’s been several years since I ordered mine, so their lens tech may have improved in the meantime.
5. Use a better screen.
And by “better,” I mean more high-definition. A screen with a higher pixel density (or resolution) means objects on the screen are more clearly defined and easier to focus on. I love the 5K display on my iMac, and I could immediately tell a BIG difference between it and my old MacBook Pro.
Give a few of these tips a try and see if they don’t help reduce your eye strain symptoms! If you’re on a tight budget, try numbers 1-3 first; they’re all free. Number 4 is relatively inexpensive, too. 😉
Want to relieve another source of stress in your design business?
Let a developer–like me!–take coding off your hands so that you can focus on what you love: the actual designing.