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Why working from home could be bad for eye health

By Nimesh Shah, spokesperson at Feel Good Contacts, an online provider of eye care products and eye health tips and advice.

Working from home is more widespread than ever before. With it comes many opportunities; businesses are learning to be more flexible in their working practices, investing in tools to facilitate collaborative remote approaches and taking the time to ensure their security is up to scratch in light of the current requirements.

But while working from home does have many benefits, it can also be of detriment to our health and that of our workers, especially when it comes to our eyesight.

Nimesh Shah
Nimesh Shah

The average amount of daily screen time is over 3 hours already and with WFH, that’s likely to increase as people no longer have commute time to consider and will be less likely to break for ‘quick chats’ with colleagues and so on.

With Workplace Eye Wellness Month underway, the team at Feel Good Contacts has been conducting research into the websites most likely to affect our eye health based on the fonts used; the full rankings are shown below, from best to worst for our eyes:

  1. Google – Arial
  2. Yahoo – Helvetica Neue 
  3. The Lad Bible – Helvetica Neue
  4. Netflix – Helvetica Neue
  5. Twitter – System UI
  6. Instagram – System UI
  7. Facebook – Segoe UI 
  8. Office – Segoe UI
  9. YouTube – Roboto
  10. Amazon – Amazon Ember
  11. BBC Online – Reith Sans  
  12. Reddit – IBMPlexSans 
  13. Twitch TV – Roobert
  14. NHS Online – Frutiger W01
  15. The Guardian – Guardian Egyptian Web
  16. Wikipedia – Sans Serif

Of course, it’s not just about the websites we view – though workers may seek to reduce the time they spend on the sites to the lower end of the list. There are steps workers can be taking to better protect their eye health while working from home, including:

Taking regular breaks

Your work-from-home set up may mean you’re alone and less likely to stop for a quick chat or meeting by the watercooler. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to skip breaks.

Experts often advocate the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, we should take a 20 second break looking at something at least 20 feet away.

However, you choose to facilitate your breaks – be it a quick walk round the block, a gaze out of the window or simply grabbing a cup of tea from the kitchen – it’s important that colleagues and employers encourage everyone to be taking frequent time away from their screens.

Getting the work-from-home setup right

There have been plenty of images shared on social channels of the setup of people’s work from home desks. While the ambience is no doubt important, even more essential is the physical layout of your workspace.

Specifically, it’s important to have the screen from which you’re working set up at least 25 inches away from your eyes.

Further to this, consider your seating and table; if possible, have the screen align with your vision to avoid having to look down and straining your neck as a result.

Take a moment to adjust your settings

If you’re using a screen other than the one you would in the office, it’s worth taking some time to ensure the settings are correct for your eyes.

For example, brightness and contrast can have a weakening effect on your eyes if they’re not set up correctly for you, so aim to have your monitor settings in a place that doesn’t strain your eyes.