Do your eyes hurt, burn or itch after a day at work? Poor lighting may be to blame for your symptoms. Many companies use inexpensive fluorescent lighting to light large areas because it’s a fairly inexpensive option. Unfortunately, your eyes pay the price.
What Kinds of Eye Problems Can Fluorescent Lighting Cause?
Exposure to harsh fluorescent lighting can cause eye strain and blurred vision. The longer you’re exposed to the light, the more likely you’ll experience the problem. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore, burning, watery or dry eyes. Double vision and increased sensitivity to light can also occur. At times, you may feel that it’s hard to keep your eyes open or concentrate on your work. Headaches are common, particularly if the fluorescent lights flicker. If you suffer from migraines, exposure to the lights may cause more frequent episodes.
Overhead fluorescent lights aren’t the only cause of the problem. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL), an energy efficient substitute for incandescent bulbs, can trigger the same symptoms. Researchers who published an article in the American Journal of Public Health noted that exposure to both traditional fluorescent lights and CFLs can increase your eye disease risk because fluorescent lights produce an artificial source of ultraviolet (UV) light. Frequent exposure to UV light can cause several eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Those Baby Blue Are at Particular Risk
If you have blue or light-colored eyes, you may experience eyestrain and sensitivity problems more intensely than your friends with dark eyes. People who have darker eyes have more pigment in the layers of their eyes. Pigment helps protect the eyes from the effects of fluorescent light and UV light.
Dim Lighting Can Also Cause Problems
Working in a dimly lit environment can be just as uncomfortable as working under bright lights. Dim light can cause eyestrain and make your eyes feel tired quicker. Not surprisingly, productivity can suffer when there’s not enough light.
Preventing Eye Problems
Proper lighting can help you avoid eye problems. Adding lamps to dark areas is a good option. Using lamps instead of overhead fluorescent lighting will also be more comfortable if harsh lighting is a problem. Unfortunately, turning off the lights probably isn’t an option if you work in a cubicle farm, but these tips can make a day at the office more comfortable.
- Blink frequently to keep your eyes moist.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses or a visor if fluorescent lights bother your eyes.
- Use lubricating eye drops to prevent dry eye.
- Reduce glare from the sun by positioning your computer away from windows.
- Take regular breaks during the day.
- Use an anti-glare shield on your computer or install a computer hood if glare is a problem.
- Ask your eye doctor about glasses with a special anti-glare coating.
- Lower blinds and shades during the sunniest parts of the day.
- Ask your co-workers to join you in requesting healthier lighting choices.