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On the Computer All Day? Here's How Not to Ruin Your Eyes

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If you are among the plethora of American workers who spend long days working at the computer, chances are you will notice the strain of this job on your body. Sore back and neck or troubles with your hands and wrists are common computer-related ailments, but did you know that you blink 60% less when you look at a computer screen?

Computer Visions Strain

This, combined with several other factors, can lead to computer-related eyestrain and discomfort. This problem is so prevalent that it's even been given its own name: Computer Visions Strain (CVS). CVS affects 64% to 90% of office workers. While it doesn't cause permanent damage, it can definitely affect the comfort of a long-term computer user.

Symptoms of CVS include blurry eyesight, dry or watery eyes, eyes burning or itching, increased light sensitivity, and headache/neck/shoulder/back tension.

Alleviate Computer-Related Eye Discomfort

Thankfully, there are ways to combat even work-mandated computer eyestrain. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips that can greatly alleviate computer-related eye discomfort:

1) Regularly Take a Moment to Look Away from the Screen.

Just like the rest of your body can do with some stretching during a long day by the computer, so too can your eyes.

Try focusing on an object far away (down the hallway, outside, etc.), then quickly shift your focus back to something on your desk. Do this 3-4 times every 10 minutes or so.

Frequent micro-breaks are much more effective at combating eyestrain than longer intermittent breaks, so really commit to doing this on a regular basis. Set a vibrating alarm if you have to. This little break is also a great way to “unstick” your thought pattern. Try doing it while you’re thinking to help loosen up the brain-juices.

2) Ensure Proper Lighting in Your Workspace.

Fluorescent lights are the worst type of lighting for computer eyestrain. If at all possible, turn off all nearby fluorescent fixtures and light your desk using 100-watt bulbs.

Here's a simple test to see if the lighting in your work area is appropriate: Look at your computer monitor and cup your hands over your eyes like a baseball cap. If this immediately causes relief, then you know that the lighting in your work area should be changed.

Experiment in adjusting the brightness/dimness, angle and number of lights to discover what works the best for you. Also remember that the materials on your desk (rather than the materials on your computer screen) need to be adequately lit so make sure you have a desk or standing lamp to help accomplish this.

3) Blink!

Blinking lubricates and cleanses the eye and, unfortunately, under stress or in high concentration scenarios most individuals do not blink regularly. Healthy eyes blink 10-12 times a minute.

An added benefit of blinking is that it relaxes the facial muscles and forehead and this counters the brow-furrowing tendency that can cause lasting head/neck tension and lead to headaches. If your eyes still feel red and itchy after blinking, try using natural lubricating re-wetting drops (available at any pharmacy). They can really help your eyes stay moist over the course of a long day.

4) Make Your Workspace Ergonomically Correct for You.

Your computer screen should be about an arm's length (18-24 inches) away and situated directly in front of your face rather than off to one side. The monitor should be positioned centrally about 4-8 inches below your eyes in order to combat neck strain while you read and type.

If at all possible, situate your desk so that you can look beyond the computer screen (rather than in a corner or looking at a wall). This allows you to take the previously discussed mini-breaks with relative ease.

5) Minimize Screen Glare.

In order to detect potential glare problems, turn on the lights in the room before turning your computer on when you enter your workspace. If any images or reflections are visible on the blank computer screen, then you know that you have a glare problem.

In this case, you can try moving the screen to a better location, tilting it to a better angle, moving the objects that you saw reflected on the screen, adjusting the artificial light or covering windows to block sunlight, or you might consider an anti-glare film for your monitor.

6) Dust Your Monitor Frequently.

A thick layer of dust can cause diffraction of the screen images, which makes them more difficult to look at and can lead to eyestrain.

7) Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly.

You should be visiting an optometrist once a year to have your vision checked.

posted Apr 11 by anonymous

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Getting your exercise for the day can be tough. Finding the time, not to mention the energy, can be a heck of an uphill battle, and this goes double if you have kids or a demanding job. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do in order to ensure that you get at least a good, solid five minutes of exercise in every single day.

Here are a few ideas to maximize the burn in a limited amount of time:

Start Early

Five minutes of exercise in the afternoon, when you're already tired, can be a tremendous chore. Five minutes of exercise in the morning, just before breakfast, can be very easy to squeeze in. In order to ensure that you're able to snap into your morning routine, make sure to get plenty of sleep. The body sleeps in three hour cycles, so if you can't get a full eight hours, go for six. By exercising in the morning, you can kickstart your body so that you'll have more energy during the day.

Don't Rush

Get through five minutes worth of exercise in five minutes. Don't try to compress a thirty, forty minute workout into five minutes. If you try to rush, then at best you're going to be doing your routine without full effort, and at worst you're going to seriously injure yourself. Intensity is key, irresponsibility is dangerous.

Stay Hydrated

The average adult should drink about a gallon of water a day. This will keep you energized so that you can snap right into your five minutes of exercise whenever you feel like it.

More Weight, Fewer Reps

Do you really want to sit there and lift a ten pound weight for thirty minutes? Try going with the heaviest weights that you can comfortably lift, and doing two sets of 8-12 reps each. This is how Bruce Lee exercised, typically strength-training for fewer than 20 minutes every day, and his physique was incredible. More intense exercise allows you to get a lot done in just a few minutes.

Do it When You Like

Working out in the morning can be a great idea, but doing your exercises here and there, when you can, can make the process very easy for busy people. You might not always be able to find five minutes to do push-ups or sit-ups, but how hard is it to find thirty seconds or a single minute to do a few pull-ups, or some basic stretches and exercises that you can do right at your desk?

Don't Forget to Stretch

Stretch, and stay stretched, throughout the day. Even a five minute workout can lead to serious injury if you don't go into it with a limber body. There are a ton of easy stretches that you can do.

Try twisting at the waist in your chair to stretch your back muscles, do cat stretches in the morning, touch your toes and try to touch your elbows together whenever you get a free moment, etc.

You typically want to do some light warm-ups before stretching if you're at the gym, but assuming that you move around during the day, that you don't just park in a chair for eight hours straight, you should be able to stretch whenever you feel like it as long as you take your time and are careful not to overextend anything.

Keep Developing Your Routine

There's no one, set five minute routine that works perfectly for everyone. The exercises that you do will depend on your fitness goals, your age, your body type and so on. If you have a leg injury, for instance, you're not going to be doing a minute of sprinting in the parking lot on the way into the office.

Take the time to study exercises that you can do in short bursts, and keep developing your routine over time, changing it as you find methods that work better.

Some Basic Exercises

To get you started, here are a few exercises that you can do in a short amount of time:

1) Self-resistance: If you don't have any weights handy, press your palms together and slowly extend your arms in front of you, pushing your hands against one another with all your strength. Then pull your hands back in. This achieves similar effect to a push-up, but can be done in seconds at your desk.

2) Squats: You can do these anywhere - while standing in line, while getting dressed, etc. Just squat down as far as you comfortably can, and stand back up, keeping your feet flat.

3) Deep breathing: Breathe from your stomach, not your chest, and then expel every bit of air you can. This will lend you more energy throughout your routine.

Keep exploring and playing with new exercises and you'll be able to get your five minute routine down in no time.

We don't provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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