Occupational Hazard: Our Eyes Are Pretty Important, You Only Get One Set

Something we don’t think about to often is our own health and well being.  Sure, we know that things hurt, get a pain here or there.  But honestly, when was the last time you went to the doctor? I’ll be the first to admit it, I hate “wasting” time to go see the doctor, I have WAY more important things to do.  Is that really the right response though? Note to self… get a physical!

As a lighting professional, what do you consider to be your most valuable asset? Your knowledge of products, programming abilities?  What about one of your five senses like sight?  Think about it, if you couldn’t see, could you perform your duties as you did with your sight? It’s kind of tough.  We work in an industry where we need to be able to see what we are producing.  Whether that be the awesome lighting arials or drafting a plot on the computer. We need to be able to see what we are doing.

Here is where I want to offer some advice.  I have been pounding away on the computer a heck of a lot lately for some long stretches of time. I think today I stared at the computer for a good 14+ hours.  It’s not to uncommon to have marathon lengths of time on the computer these days.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do have a helpful hint to help save your eyes and your mind.

While at the computer, remember this simple phrase, every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  I just happen to call it my 20 cubed method. What this does is forces your eyes to focus on a distant object.  When our eyes focus on something like a computer monitor, they tend to stay set to that focal range causing our eyes to get tired  We let our eyes set in, and our mind take over.  Kind of like putting our eyes on cruise control by staying in focus and not having to adjust.  We also tend to blink less while focused on our computer monitor thus drying out our eyes.  Combine the less blinking, dryer eyes and less eye focusing movement, it’s no wonder why we rub our eyes after long periods of time at the helm.

I learned about the 20 cubed method some years ago while drafting away in the dungeon of a computer lab in college.  If you draft or work on computers at great lengths of time, your eyes randomly begin to tear or start getting really tired.  Ever get a headache or blurred vision after awhile? Those are warning sign.  Your eyes are TIRED, give’em a break. Your starting to get Asthenopia or Computer Vision Syndrome, better known as eye strain.

When you say it like that, eye strain, it sounds less thrilling or harmful, don’t be that gullible. Lasting vision problems can occur if you don’t take care of your most important tools, your eyes. Simple preventative steps to helping insure your vision last for a while just might be worth it.  OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put together a huge list of suggestions and tips while working in front of a computer.  Not only will these tips help save your eyes, but your body as well. If you only add one of these tips to your daily life, you’ll begin to feel better.  Take care of yourself, you only get one chance at this crazy thing we call life.