Anyone else feeling some major eye fatigue from all your at-home screen time lately? From all your social interactions being over Zoom, to working from home, to spending hours bingeing TV shows, we’re all getting more than our fair share of screens during quarantine. Dr. Marie Kernie, an optometrist at Pacific Medical Centers, answered questions regarding keeping eyes healthy — during this time and beyond.
For eye wellness tips for working from home, can you share some proactive advice to maintain healthy eyes?
To keep your eyes healthy, it is important to ensure that you have a nutritious diet, which includes food that is especially good for the eyes. These include green leafy veggies, oily fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and beans. You should be wearing UV eye protection that blocks at least 99 percent of both UVA and UVB light rays.
Additionally, there are many preventative steps that to minimize eye strain, especially during this time of working from home. I recommend trying the following:
- Make sure that your computer screen is level to the top of your eyes
- If you get dry eyes, ensure that you’re drinking enough water, and use artificial tears for additional moisture (not red-eye or allergy drops)
- Get up every two hours and take a 15-minute break from screens
- Choose a comfortable and supportive chair
- Try to avoid glare from windows or indoor lights
- Don’t forget to blink — not blinking enough can cause red, irritated, dry eyes
- If you have prescription eyewear, be sure that you’re wearing them
What should people know about blue light – can it actually be good for us?
Studies have shown that high amounts of blue light do harm the eyes. However, they have also shown that even with our increased use of blue light-emitting devices such as cell phones and computer screens, the exposure is still well below levels to cause damage to our eyes. In fact, blue light is actually beneficial to us during the day. It boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function, and elevates overall mood. For this reason, we at Pacific Medical Centers do not currently recommend blocking blue light with glasses, as blue light can be beneficial.
At night however, this same blue light can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) and in turn trigger your body to stay awake. It is recommended to avoid personal electronic digital devices 2-3 hours before going to bed or setting devices on night mode.
If we can feel our eyes straining but it’s a long time before we can get in to see an eye doctor because of the quarantine, what can we do to help ourselves?
It is important to be mindful of eye strain when working on computers and give yourself regular breaks. This is why at Pacific Medical Centers, we recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Specifically, for every 20 minutes you look at a screen, look away for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away.
Are those drugstore readers actually helpful, or could they do more harm than good?
Drugstore readers do not ever damage the eyes and do work for many people but not everyone. This is because people often require a power that is not available at the drug store.
Even if drug store readers help your vision, it is still important to have regular eye exams. Vision problems you may not be aware of such as glaucoma or cataracts can be diagnosed early to help minimize damage to your vision.
Dr. Marie Kernie is an optometrist at Pacific Medical Centers at its First Hill clinic. She has been practicing with PacMed for 28 years and has received her degree from Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Oregon. Her medical interests include glaucoma, diabetic, and general eye exams. When not in the clinic, you can find Dr. Kernie hiking and reading.
Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) is a multi-specialty medical group with nine neighborhood clinics in the Puget Sound area. Founded in 1933, the PacMed network is one of the largest throughout the Puget Sound and offers patients more than 150 providers for primary and specialty care. PacMed’s culture focuses on its mission of delivering high-quality health care focused on the individual needs of its diverse patient population with an emphasis on improving the quality of health in the community.