Eye Strain: Part 1 of 3

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February 17, 2017 13 mins
eCommerce Q&A
Download (MP3)

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Lightpack for ambient lighting: https://www.amazon.com/Lightpack-LightpackUSB/dp/B00LFW1P6U

Noelle: Hey everyone. Welcome to e-commerce Q&A. The winter sun is shining brightly outside, it is a gorgeous day.

Today we’re going to try something a little different, we’re going to be doing a mini series on computer vision syndrome. This is the technical term for eye strain and pain linked with the use of computers. I have Michael Barrow with me today and we will be touching on some of the basic first steps to put into place that help in preventing computer eye strain. Welcome Michael, so glad to have you with us.

Michael: Thanks Noelle, it’s good to be here.

Noelle: Awesome, okay to jump right in, and just for our listeners. There are some pretty basic steps nothing to complicated but we just wanted to make sure that you had them all in one place. So the first one is placement of your computer screen in regards to your eyes. Michael can you give us some tips on that.

Michael: Yeah, the main idea is that you don’t want to be too close to your screen. So 16 to 30 inches is typical good distance, or 20 to 26 being the average. Basically if you can give your monitor a high five, that means that you’re at approximately the right distance. So obviously this mainly going to be a problem if you’re working on a laptop computer, which I do a lot to help other things just to move around and not always be sitting and things like that. So what I do is actually have my laptop up on a little laptop stand next to the big monitor, a lot of people do that. And that way I get the proper distance. So 16 to 30.

Noelle: Great

Michael: 16 feels like it’s too close though.

Noelle: Yeah I don’t think I could do 16 that would be very uncomfortable. So jumping into lighting issues. So with light in your office, some of the big no no’s are fluorescent lights. Those are the hardest on the eyes. Spot lights are the other ones that are difficult. Again anything that has direct or a harsh light, you want to avoid. You want to create that natural ambiance of being more outside with nature. Third point overhead lighting, not necessarily bad but again not that great. Forth and I think is the biggest one that I do and also see others do, is working in the dark. Again when you’re working in the dark, the drastic dark and light contrast of the computer screen are all your eyes are picking up. And you’re constantly causing them to overwork every single time you work in the dark.

Michael: Can I just jump in?

Noelle: Yeah

Michael: I thought this was really interesting because I always thought contrast was a good thing. I always had my screen on really high contrast all the time. Because it is easier to see the differences between things, but apparently that actually is not what you want. Based on the research, it’s the idea, like you said, is out in nature there are some places that where you’d have very very high contrast. Maybe in a rain forest or something where patches of light filter through but on average especially where humans mainly live. You have not super high contrast. You know, like the difference between the grass and the tree and the shade, is not as great as it is looking at incredibly bright computer screen and at the blackness of the wall behind it.

Noelle: And even in nature, how we transition with dawn and dusk. We transition into the darker, and we transition into the lighter. Nothing is drastic it’s all very smooth and soft.

Michael: Which again, is kind of weird to me but apparently it’s better. We don’t have any scientific articles or anything unfortunately to give you but, very strong proliferation of you know what people are saying online about this and it kind of makes sense, right. If you have a gentle transition between colors and light and dark. It kind of makes sense that it would be good for your eyes.

Noelle: Yeah. So going on to, the ideal lighting. And Michael, like you just said the natural light is the best and do you want to talk about how you have your desk set up. We’re actually in your office right now so, with your desk setup can you talk about where the natural light is?

Michael: Where it is, or where it should be?

Noelle: Where it should be.

Michael: So I have this therapeutic light lamp, I love it, its great. When I moved to Colorado, one of the big things I struggled with was the feeling of the long winter or just kind of not having enough light. So this thing helps with a lot with that but it’s blaring me at the face right behind the computer screen. And apparently that’s not what it should be, it should be more diffused, and kind of like flooding the whole room.

Noelle: And where would you want like, light coming through a window, in regards to your desk?

Michael: It looks like the research is saying that you want to have light coming in from a perpendicular angle, if you’re staring at your screen, it should be coming from off to the right or off to the left. Which is actually good for me because I have a window off to my right, so it’s not like right behind my screen, or behind me or obviously not above me. I guess above would work though, like a sky light might work. So off to the right or off to the left.

Noelle: So what would you do, let’s say we’re in an office without a window. Which that would be really sad but if that was the case, or let’s just say it’s night time. Where would you ideally want your lighting?

Michael: I don’t know.

Noelle: OK I’ll jump in with that one. So basically what you want is a lamp placed slightly behind your monitor.

Michael: Or right, so it kind of diffuses out.

Noelle: And you wanted to have something like a shade on it or a like the wrapping of a Chinese lantern. Anything like that, again you’re just creating the softening effect.

Michael: And they were saying that you want the light of the room to match the lighting of the screen, if that makes any sense. So the average brightness of the screen, if your room can have that same average brightness, that’s optimal.

Noelle: Yeah that’s great. And then can you tell us about the fancy solution, with the ambient lighting?

Michael: Oh yeah this is kind of cool. So it’s basically… I don’t know why it’s so great but they call it a light pack, you’ve probably seen these with TV screens, but it’s some lighting that goes behind your monitor and kind of serves its purpose.

Noelle: So I think it basically attaches to your monitor.

Michael: Right

Noelle: And then it shines on your wall, in response to the colors that are on your screen.

Michael: Right, which is apparently again cutting down on the harsh contrast between the edge of your screen and what’s behind it and what’s on your screen.

Noelle: And it looks really cool by the way. There will be a link to that on amazon, its about $90, somewhere around there. Super cool, I’m totally going to get one of those. Okay so next point here, eye breaks. And this was cool, I was doing some research and the mayo clinic popped up. Can you tell us about the 20 – 20 – 20 rule Michael?

Michael: Yeah this is new for me. So it sounds like if you do this you’ll get 20 – 20 vision. But apparently that’s not what it means.

Noelle: You’ll keep your 20 – 20 vision, right?

Michael: Well, the idea is that every 20 minutes and this is something everybody can do. Every 20 minutes you look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. I actually love the fact that I’m next to this window because I can see the mountains in the distance and I look at them for as long as I possibly can but. I used to do a lot of eye exercises and you just felt like they were taking forever. We will talk more about eye exercises I think but yeah 20 – 20 – 20 is a good take away.

Noelle: Cool. Moving on to dry eyes. So with a computer screen for some reason we do not blink as much we do when we’re in nature, and this can lead to dry eyes. So obviously first step, easy step, free step. Blink consciously blink more, sit at your computer screen and blink five times in a row. Keep those eyes blinking. Second point is, there is some eye drops I found on Amazon, that are natural. I have not tried them personally, I did a little research they look very clean, they’re eye break drops from wisdom of the ages. Again we will have a link below for you. Just a note with eye drops, there can be a lot of potentially irritating or not the cleanest of ingredients in more your commercial or common eye drops. So just make sure that if you are putting something in your eye that you’re reading what’s in it and that you are comfortable with putting that in your eye. Moving on to the size of text and brightness, Michael can you take this one.

Michael: Yeah I mean this one is nice and easy, its just if it’s hard to see then make it bigger, right? So this would apply to your phone, this would apply to your screen, kind of tricky. One of my colleagues has a 4K laptop screen and I can’t even see anything on it. And it’s probably my eye sight not being good, but I would probably say, hmm maybe I can make the icons bigger, make the words bigger there is settings for this stuff. Usually in the accessibility area of your settings on your computer.

Noelle: Interesting. You know for me, my eyes do better when the screen is smaller.

Michael: Really

Noelle: Yeah. The bigger the screen, the more its like too much for me.

Michael: Well you always go, “command +” right? To make things bigger.

Noelle: I do. Yeah sometimes I will make my text bigger.

Michael: Yeah your text was like 110% right here.

Noelle: Yeah so I will make my text bigger, but I like my screen small.

Michael: Oh yeah.

Noelle: Not small. But you know just normal laptop size. Okay, and then Michael you did mention briefly your eye exercises. I was just wondering could you explain what you did and then did it help you.

Michael: Yeah for sure. The thing that I like doing is, I can’t remember where I picked this up. But you put your finger on your nose and you look at it so your all crossed eyed then you start moving your finger away until it’s as far as you can move it from you and your concentrating very tightly on your fingerprint, try to focus on that. Then you look at something that’s about eight feet away, and then 15 feet away then 20 feet away and then a lot farther away, and then something really far in the distance like a star or a mountain range. Then you bring it back in. Look again at the fingertip on your nose. And you do that and you repeat it about 15 times. And I had noticed that that’s helped with my eyesight a lot.

Noelle: Do know with that, what is that doing?

Michael: I think it’s just you know. Apparently when you’re looking at something really close by it’s actually harder on your eyes than when it’s farther away. So it’s helping the muscles … I’m sure I’m using the wrong words but, you know. Relax or stop being so uptight, if that’s a term I can use here.

Noelle: And you said it did help you?

Michael: Yeah I actually felt a change, I mean really the main thing, if you can do one thing. Get outside more. And be in places where you can look really far away and look at the mountains right.

Noelle: Because it seems like with the eye exercises maybe that might feel like just more work. Is that true?

Michael: Yeah you do it naturally when you’re out in nature.

Noelle: Okay, so there you go people now you have an excuse. I have to stop working right now and go be outside. You actually do, your eyes need it. Lastly Michael can you just talk to me real fast about anything you know about computer glasses, have you ever tried them?

Michael: Yeah I have a stigmatism in my left eye, so I had to get prescription glasses a little while ago, and I was really resisting using them, and I think that was actually causing more eye strain. But at the time I got some, gunners I think what they’re called. Gamers will know about these. These are really commonly used for gaming or other things where you’re going to be looking at the screen forever and you need to cut down on eye strain. Or people doing graphic design. So …

Noelle: Do they cut the blue light by any chance? Do you know?

Michael: I think so, they have the amber lens so… Apparently blue light is the hardest and I think it is because it is the highest frequency of light or close to the highest frequency of light. You probably seen the setting on your phone where you can make it night setting and if you look at that it’s a more amber colored screen.

Noelle: How interesting.

Michael: Not as harsh, not as bright. And if your think about it like, when the sun is going down, its sunset colors right? Or even when your just waking up in the dawn we have these gentle colors, more red yellow. During the heat of the day we’re getting the full light spectrum.

Noelle: So that’s it for today folks. Thanks for being with us Michael.

Michael: My Pleasure.

Noelle: Awesome. So next week we will be talking about monitors, and why they’re not good for your eyes and what you can do about it.

Michael: Wait no monitors are good for eyes?

Noelle: Some are, most aren’t. The show notes are at the bottom, don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or however else you like to listen to us. We would also love a five star review on iTunes. And lastly if you have any questions or topics you’d like to hear discussed, make sure to send that in to podcast@sellry.com talk to you guys next week.

Michael: Adios