What is visual ergonomics and why is it so important for the care of our eyes?

Are you one of those who spends a lot of time in front of your computer or cell phone screen? Here we tell you the risks and care you must have for good visual health.

Woman in front of a computer screen

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LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es la ergonomía visual y porqué es tan importante para el cuidado de nuestros ojos?

The use of screens and digital media has completely changed the dynamics and how human beings develop in society. The time that people spend on their cell phones, computers, or on television has grown rapidly in recent years, and with it, diseases and discomforts related to visual health. Technological progress, the pandemic, and the growth of social networks, among other reasons, have made these devices part of daily life, generating a high level of dependency.

These problems are directly related to visual ergonomics, a term that may be unknown to many, but which, given current lifestyles, has become more important. The University of La Sabana defines it as the study that seeks "the greatest comfort and efficiency of a person when they have a high visual demand in the development of a task". Above all, those who have long hours of work in front of the computer or those who must visualize tiny elements, therefore demand visual precision.

According to a study published in the " BMJ Open Ophthalmology " Journal on digital eyestrain, the blue light emitted by electronic devices can be harmful to the eyes. Particularly at acute doses above the threshold (400–500 nm). Likewise, it indicates that "exposure to short-wavelength light (including digital devices) before bedtime can alter sleep patterns." Hence, the rate of people with visual diseases has increased considerably in recent years.

How Does Spending A Lot Of Time In Front Of A Screen Affect Your Health?

The symptoms that can occur range from eye irritation, visual fatigue, blurred vision, dry eyes, or the well-known Computer Visual Syndrome (SVI), to severe headaches, and neck and shoulder pain. Although these signs are usually transient, they can be frequent, leading to myopia, loss of visual acuity, or early-onset signs of age-related macular degeneration. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half of the world's population may suffer from myopia in the year 2050.

The frequency of these conditions is increasing at an accelerated rate, especially among children and adolescents, who are the ones who are most exposed to new technologies in their daily activities. However, adults are not far behind. The pandemic has imposed new routines on people's lives. Teleworking, for example, has become more and more frequent and is not always in ideal conditions. Resources such as video conferences, video calls, or the use of cell phones for entertainment, are taking their toll on visual health.

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The scenario is worrying. According to an article published by the " Scientific Journal of Research and Knowledge (RECIMUNDO) ", on the impact of technology on the health of the population in the 21st century, the improper use of technology and the bad habits acquired, will cause large percentage of the population to see their visual health affected in the future. This is why it is necessary to adopt simple but essential measures related to visual ergonomics, which help mitigate the risks mentioned and perform tasks more efficiently for our eyes.

Visual Ergonomics Recommendations To Care For And Protect Your View Of The Screens

  • Blink frequently to maintain the proper amount of moisture on the surface of the eye
  • Has optimal lighting adapted to each situation and work or study space? White and not yellow light is recommended, so you will avoid a greater visual demand.
  • Sit properly at the desk. Watch your posture, you should always try to have a straight back
  • Take visual breaks. You can look near and far from time to time. Closing your eyes frequently is highly recommended, for at least 2 minutes, because it helps lubricate the eyes and decreases tension on the optic nerve.
  • Avoid mental load: much of what your mind perceives enters through your eyes. It is recommended to have a clean workplace, with the minimum objects to carry out your daily tasks.
  • Use a dock for your computer. This will help both your eyes and your neck. Make sure the screen is between 50 and 70 cm from the line of sight.
  • Hydrate your vision: you can use artificial tears when you are working with a computer or mobile.
  • Use the glasses, during your work or study days, whether they are formulated or protective. Opt for ones with a blue light filter.
  • Do not get too close to the computer screen or the documents with which you are working, as it will cause visual dryness.
  • Make sure the screen is clean, to avoid reflections and glare, which causes visual fatigue.

Following the recommendations given by visual ergonomics is key to keeping your eyes healthy. Likewise, it is important to be aware of the dependence that has been generated on electronic devices and to create other types of spaces and activities that do not involve the use of screens. Having good visual health strengthens overall health. Improve your learning capacity, regain control of your life, you foster a better relationship with others that translates into a better quality of life.