The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022 - 23

and ophthalmologists have
shown concern about low
macular pigment leading to
eye problems1
, including:
y Decreased visual acuity
(the ability to see clearly)
y Decreased contrast
sensitivity (the ability to
distinguish between lighter
and darker objects)
y Light sensitivity
(discomfort in bright light)
y Difficulty seeing while
driving at night
Some studies2
Thinking about
ergonomics can
help your back,
neck, hands,
and eyes.
have even
sleep well because the light
from the computer screen
tells your body to stay
awake. Limiting exposure
later in the day, especially
when preparing to sleep,
will help reduce the risk of
insomnia or other sleep cycle
disturbances.
Researchers have also
found links between
blue light exposure and
decreasing amounts of
macular pigment in the eyes.
The macula, or the back of
the retina inside the eye,
usually contains a substance
that can block some of
the light waves from the
blue end of the spectrum.
Individual optometrists
www.ata-chronicle.online
suggested a potential link
between lack of macular
pigment and increased risk
of age-related macular
degeneration, a disease that
causes vision loss in the
center of your field of vision.
Eye doctors can measure
the macular pigment
optical density (MPOD) in
their patients' eyes and
counsel them on the use
of supplements, special
coatings on prescription
eyeglasses, or special
blue light glasses to help
block some blue light from
reaching and potentially
damaging the retina.
The American Academy
of Ophthalmology (AAO)
believes that special lenses
are unnecessary for reducing
the amount of blue light
reaching your eyes. The
AAO agrees, however, that
excessive use of digital
screens is causing eye
problems for many and
states that blue light alone
cannot be blamed. The way
we use screens, holding
them too close and staring
at them for too long without
blinking, can also cause
several temporary problems
classified together as digital
eyestrain. Symptoms include
tired or itchy eyes, blurred
vision, dry or watery eyes,
difficulty concentrating, and
even neck or back pain from
changes in posture while
staring at the screen.3
As translators and
interpreters, we need to
protect our vision if we
want to work productively.
Given the nature of our
jobs, however, and our
dependence on computers
for everything from
term research to remote
simultaneous interpreting,
avoiding screen use
altogether is simply
impossible. How can we
strike a balance between
using technology to work and
avoiding health problems
caused by overusing our eyes
in the process?
General Recommendations
for Preventing
Eyestrain and Blue Light
Overexposure
The AAO and independent
eye care specialists suggest
several measures we can take
to improve our eye health
while using digital devices.
Consider whether any of the
following steps may help
protect your vision.
Blink: Sometimes people
run into trouble with screens
because they stare at them
for too long. Even regular
blinking can help prevent
your eyes from drying out
and becoming strained.
Use the 20-20-20 Rule:
Every 20 minutes, spend 20
seconds looking at something
20 feet away from you. Eye
specialists often recommend
this technique to help you
give your eyes a chance to
recover from staring at the
bright screen. People who use
the Pomodoro Technique4
to
focus and manage their time
or take regular breaks from
work are also giving their
eyes a rest when they give
their brains some time off.
Keep Lighting Consistent:
A bright screen in a dark
room will cause your eyes
to work overtime. Try to
keep your screen brightness
similar to the lighting in
your workspace.
Adjust Contrast: Low
contrast on the screen can
make it difficult for you to
distinguish text or objects
from the background. This
problem increases with age
(the age of the translator,
unfortunately, not the age
of the screen). Using highcontrast
settings can make
it easier for your eyes to tell
what's what.
Reduce Glare: Glare on the
screen will also increase
the workload on your eyes.
Adjust your work setup to
reduce glare or invest in a
matte screen filter.
Adjust Your Position:
Thinking about ergonomics
can help your back, neck,
hands, and eyes. Be sure to
sit up properly and try to
keep the screen at least 25
inches away from your face.
The distance will help you
tolerate light from the
screen better.
American Translators Association 23
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022

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