Are you damaging your eyes when you transcribe?
As a transcriptionist, you spend hours staring at your computer monitor without even thinking about the potential health consequences. You’re too laser-focused on listening and transcribing the right information. But while your diligence helps you finish your work quickly and accurately, you could be damaging your eyes in the process.
You’re staring at your computer monitor (and other digital screens) too much. The distance from your monitor, screen glare, existing vision problems, and—a reason many people don’t realize—blue wavelength light emitted from LED (light emitting diode) monitors, all contribute to eye strain. According to The Vision Council’s Digital Eye Strain Report 2016, this “cumulative blue light exposure is linked to slow degeneration of the retina, which could accelerate long-term vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.”
Also, research reported by WebMD indicates that, “somewhere between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye trouble.” These symptoms may include: blurry or double vision, dryness, redness, headaches, and neck and back pain.
With this in mind, what can you do to help keep your eyes healthy as you transcribe?
Here are five tips for reducing eye strain.
Top 5 Ways to Prevent Eye Strain as a Transcriptionist
1) Visit your Eye Doctor.
“As more people spend their days at work on a computer and their free time on handheld devices, we are seeing more patients who are experiencing digital eye strain,” says Andrea P. Thau, O.D., president of the American Optometric Association (AOA). “The problem can be relieved by taking simple steps, and the first step is to have an in-person comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry and discuss your screen time at home and at work.”
When you visit your eye doctor, you’ll learn the current status of your vision health. Your optometrist can also provide recommendations on the latest, anti-glare and lens technology for your specific needs.
Per The Vision Council’s Digital Eye Strain Report 2016, “depending on your activities, you may need lenses that offer a very wide, but shallow field of view – ideal for sustained computer work – or ones that offer good computer vision but also allow you to see clearly, wherever you are, whether it’s your office or your home.”
2) Take Breaks Every 20 Minutes.
Look away from your computer screen at least every 20 minutes. Close your eyes and rest them for a few minutes. Also, glance around the room. Many people use the easy-to-remember rule of looking away from their monitor every 20 minutes and staring at an object that’s 20 feet away.
During your breaks, it’s also a good idea to get out of your seat and walk around. Try to go outside, get a breath of fresh air and focus your eyes on something off in the distance.
Your body and mind will appreciate the change of scenery. Then, you can go back to work feeling more refreshed. And if you have trouble taking breaks, set an alarm on your phone or use a simple kitchen timer to remind you that it’s time to rest your eyes.
3) Keep Your Eyes Lubricated.
When you transcribe, it can be easy to look at a computer monitor and avoid blinking for long periods of time. Staring causes eye strain and dryness. Because of this, try to blink often and keep your eyes lubricated. You can buy lubricating eye drops at your local store. Just be sure to check with your doctor first to see what is best for you.
For additional help, review the “Consumer Guide to Eye Lubricants” at DryEyeZone.com. You’ll want to know what you are putting in your eyes to avoid allergic reactions and any other potential discomforts.
4) Check the Lighting.
When you transcribe, create lighting conditions that work best for your eyes. Take some time to review your office environment.
Does it seem too dark or light in the room?
Is your monitor too bright?
Per recommendations by ergonomists at the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Health and Safety, “the lighting around you should not be too bright, and you should not see any bright light glare on the computer screen.”
In addition, they suggest that you, “make sure that the computer monitor screen isn’t backed to a bright window or facing a bright window so that there’s the screen looks washed out (use a shade or drapes to control window brightness).”
5) Adjust Your Monitor Placement.
When you evaluate the lighting, also look at where your monitor is in relation to your body and head. The AOA recommends that you, “Sit a comfortable distance from the computer monitor where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and your back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.”
Once you have your monitor in the appropriate position, test it. See how you feel after a day of transcribing. If you feel any strain or pain, make additional adjustments and test it again. Continue making changes to your setup until you find a position that is comfortable and decreases any unnecessary strain on your body and eyes.
Keep Your Eyes Healthy While You Transcribe.
The Vision Council indicates that 65% of Americans experience digital eye strain. To have healthier eyes while you transcribe, follow the tips above. Get a comprehensive eye exam, take breaks, lubricate your eyes, and review your workstation. Then, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary eye strain and complete your transcription projects in a healthier work environment.
Do you have tips to help prevent eye strain as a transcriptionist? Please share them with us.