Story time, gang.
I’m a millennial, meaning I’ve used laptops consistently since age 14. My screen time has only increased since, thanks to modern employment and the death of flip phones. Now that I’m in a tech role, things are only going downhill for me.
If you follow this blog, then you know I spend lots of time on spreadsheets. What you don’t know is that I love to draw (or maybe that was obvious?) and I’m a sucker for cool sights. Think sunsets, cityscapes, the ocean, Tim Burton art.
Basically, vision is a huge part of how I enjoy life.
So it feels funny to admit that I never considered how all this screen time might be impacting my eyes. That is, until the tension headaches began.
I’m a healthy gal. What the heck was happening?
Now, I should just quickly point out…I’m getting older.
And with that, I’m probably the most stressed I’ve ever been! So there was a chance that these headaches were just another milestone in the process that is my growing up.
But facial tightness that came on in the middle of the day (and during the workweek) felt suspicious. Sure my posture wasn’t great, but some days my eyes even throbbed. Worst of all, I started noticing a pattern of nausea whenever I stared at my monitor for too long.
Which led me to one bizarre conclusion. Screen life was killing me slowly. Or at the very least, doing its darnedest to make me uncomfortable.
I decided it was time for a change.
After months of headaches and fruitless doctors’ appointments, I had a potential culprit. But I didn’t have an answer. After all, how does a nonprofit techie look at the computer less and still remain employed?
Research led me down a few paths. One option was the 20-20-20 rule, an exercise in which experts recommend staring 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. But let’s be real: I’m just not that disciplined. 😌
It was also possible that I simply wasn’t blinking enough – leading to some un-diagnosed form of computer vision syndrome. So I literally just tried blinking more… when I could remember. There was that discipline again!
There was one intervention that didn’t rely so much on my discipline: computer glasses. Unlike regular prescription glasses, computer glasses are designed to minimize the negative impacts of computer screens via the use of a yellow-tinted, anti-glare coating. For more on how they work, check out this seemingly trustworthy piece by Lifehacker.
The idea of having something physically between my eyeball and my screen seemed like a worthwhile approach. So I decided to give them a shot.
Enter my computer glasses.
After shopping around, I chose to get the Gamma Ray glasses pictured above. Not only were the reviews positive, but the price was reasonable and they weren’t hideous. Since I don’t have prescription glasses to worry about, it was easy for me to find these and place the order.
After mistakenly thinking I’d lost them a few months ago, I then ordered this second pair. The frame on these is much thinner, but it’s still solid.
Slightly late disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I can’t say that computer glasses will solve your issues, or whether they even technically solved mine!
All I can say is that once I started wearing them, I felt a difference. Sitting at my desk for 8 hours didn’t leave my face feeling like a pretzel. I rarely got nauseous anymore (unless the glasses were off) and the throbbing in my eyes was no more.
Since then, I’ve sworn by these babies.
Now, self-care includes eye care
Though not intentionally at first, I now have two sets of computer glasses that I use at work and at home.
But I’ve also made a few lifestyle changes. I did a big sweep to delete all the apps on my phone that I don’t need, so that I’m on it a little less. I also use tools like f.lux to adjust the screen temperature on my laptop at night (since blue light has been known to impact sleep rhythms).
To my fellow Salesforce admins, I will also admit that I print sections of the release notes. I simply can’t scan those 500 pages on a laptop…but I promise I recycle them afterwards!
Now if you’re wondering what this post has to do with a nonprofit tech advice blog, let me assure you that the point was NOT to sell you on computer glasses.
The point – and my takeaway from the experience – is that it’s easy for us to take sight for granted, especially in this digital age of work. My symptoms forced me to wake up and try to become smarter about my eyes, so that I could take steps now to protect them for the future.
So whether it’s computer glasses, the 20-20-20 rule, a different monitor, or even an appointment with the optometrist….remember that eye-care is self-care too.