Your folks warned you sitting too close to the TV wasn’t a good idea…

It turns out they weren’t entirely off the mark.

Digital Eye Strain (DES) is now a real condition, defined as the physical eye discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. As this screen time increases at home and in the office so do symptoms like blurred vision, burning eyes, headaches and disrupted sleep. In total, nearly two-thirds of adults now experience symptoms of digital eye strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices like computers, tablets and mobile phones.

It’s not hard to see why, for many of us, the glow of an iPhone’s screen is the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we see before sleep. In between, we fill the hours bathed in LED light, staring first at documents and emails, then Facebook updates and Netflix. One of the biggest eye strain culprits, not surprisingly, is the office, where being planted in front of a screen is often a requirement of the job. Our bodies and eyes just weren’t designed for modern digital lifestyles and workplaces. We’ve put together some tips that will help not only help your productivity in the workplace but also lead to a healthier way of interacting with your tech.

Adopting a healthy screen time system called the 20-20-20 rule is a very simple way of offsetting the effects of too much time in front of a screen. The rule says that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away, which relaxes the eye muscles for 20 seconds and gives your brain a much-needed respite.

Look after your eyes

Vision care experts also recommend these guidelines to help avoid digital eye strain and maintain more comfortable vision while using digital devices:

  • Take frequent breaks while using digital devices using the 20/20/20 rule.
  • Use artificial tears or lubricant drops to relieve symptoms of dryness.
  • Reduce overhead lighting to minimize screen glare.
  • Keep your eyes an arm’s distance away from the screen.
  • Increase the text size on devices to see screen content more easily.
  • Ensure you have ‘Night Shift’ enabled on your iPhone.

Of course, it’s not just our vision and hydration we need to take care of as we find ourselves sat in front of a computer screen more & more these days, and here are some other things you should be mindful of in your workday.

Keep your laptop in the right position

If you are looking too far down from your line of sight, you could experience back and neck pain. Alternatively, if you are gazing too far upwards this will add to dry eyes. Hence, it’s better to use a computer stand or a stack of books to set the position of your laptop in a manner that you don’t have to look down at an angle of more than 10-degrees.

Maintain a good posture

Getting neck and back pain is very common when you sit in front of a computer for long hours. According to experts, the top of your screen should be at the same level as your eyes to make it easier for you to sit straight. Sit with your shoulders pulled back and relaxed. Sit up tall and your forearms parallel to the ground so that you are not leaning while reaching for the keyboard.

Don’t just sit there!

It’s important to walk around the office and stretch your muscles a little. You could set an alarm every hour and make sure you take a walk around the premises; or if you have an office radio on, the news bulletin tends to be on the hour, and this can act as a good alarm without having to actually set one. If you can’t do that every hour, you can walk a little more when you go to fill your water bottle, or when on your breaks.

Moving is not only important for our physical self but also our mental wellbeing. In a three-year survey of 25,000 workers by researchers at Chiba University in Japan, they discovered that repeatedly sitting down in front of a computer for prolonged periods of time can result in depression. The results, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, showed that 1 in 4 staff spent at least 5 hours a day at their desk. These same staff saw a dramatic increase in developing psychological disorders.

A brisk walk in the fresh air after eating your lunch may help to alleviate that early afternoon slump, be a good way to cram in a little exercise into your workday and also chatting to a colleague is good for your mental health as well.

In the words of renowned workplace health and safety expert Ice Cube, you’d better check yourself before you wreck yourself.