The EYE of the Beholder
Staying active and healthy is a major plus in our modern age, but it’s still tough getting older. I notice I’m more frustrated with maps, directions, books and tiny fine print. You know, the things you could read easily when you were 20 years old. Do you find that dark movie theaters take more time to get used to and that glare is more bothersome now? I actually held the handrail in a dimly lit hallway the other day!
So what’s happening to our eyes as we age? Two things: our vision gets worse, and we need more light.
Here’s a given: posture follows vision. Ever watch someone in an office where their monitor is on the right side of the desk? They turn their neck while working and can’t understand why they hurt. Another dangerous aspect of aging vision is when we can’t read the words on the monitor and then pull our neck forward, like a turtle head coming out of its shell.
- Pull the monitor closer rather than moving your head toward it. Your neck will thank you!
- Increase the font size for documents using the settings feature or a zoom slider on the lower right of a document screen.
- When you move to bifocals, lower the monitor to avoid pulling your chin up to view the screen through the bottom portion of the lens.
- Progressive lenses can be a challenge. I fear whiplash injuries from trying to find that sweet spot in the lens where I can view the monitor.
As we age, healthy eyes become more sensitive to glare. You may need higher light levels for paper documents. But for computer screens, lower light levels are better.
Screen and paper
Try a desk lamp, or any type of soft task lighting, to illuminate documents while avoiding excessive light near the monitor.
Reading and interpreting blurred, fuzzy, tiny or otherwise illegible characters on a monitor for hours a day can strain your eyes. Don’t be afraid to change the factory settings for screen brightness and contrast to create a comfortable balance.
Reflections of objects, shiny walls and light sources like windows and overhead lighting can increase glare. Use things such as window blinds and matte finishes to minimize reflections. Remember that glare can also force you into awkward postures.
We often have the misconception that overhead lighting must remain on at all times in our area. Dimming or turning off overhead lights and using task lighting at the desk level can be an alternative solution. Remember, lighting should be adequate but not excessive.
As we age, taking good care of our eyes is critical to maintaining a healthy work environment. Check your vision every one or two years, as recommended by your eye specialist. And be sure to tell your eye care professional about the duties of your job. Bottom line? Our eyes may be getting older, but as long as we’re young at heart, we’ll survive.