How to protect your vision as a freelancer
Learn tips for protecting your eyes and vision as a freelancer — and why you need to.
As a freelancer, it’s important that you have health insurance to protect your business’ most important asset: yourself!
In addition to basic health insurance, dental insurance, as well as supplement insurance plans like accident and critical illness insurance, can help provide important protection for freelancers.
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But one type of insurance you may not have thought about is vision insurance.
You only get one pair of eyes. And more than likely, your business relies on clear vision—from looking at online sales in the morning to wrapping up your last email of the day.
Let’s look at some of the risks of unhealthy vision for freelancers and what you can do to protect yourself.
Vision health risks to freelancers
Of the 25 most in-demand freelance skills, all of them require using a computer.
As a freelancer, the majority of your work relies on a screen. That’s why freelancers are at high risk of eyestrain from so much screen time.
Eyestrain happens when you don’t blink enough because you’re focusing on a task. And research shows that people blink less when they are staring at a screen.¹ Eyestrain makes your eyes red and dry and can cause your vision to become blurry. It can also cause headaches and pain in your neck and upper back and shoulders.
Tips to avoid eye strain as a freelancer
So how do you avoid eyestrain when you need to work on your computer all day? Here are some tips to keep your eyes healthy so you can stay focused:
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Take breaks: Take a 15-20 minute break away from the screen every two hours.
Check the brightness: Try and make the brightness of your computer screen the same as the brightness in the room by either dimming your screen or increasing the brightness in the room.
Keep your distance: Make sure your screen is at least an arm’s length away from your eyes, and slightly below eye level.
Don’t stare at glare: Adjust your windows or room brightness, or use a screen filter to minimize on-screen glare.
Avoid dry eyes: A humidifier in your office or eye drops can help keep your eyes moisturized.²
Eat an eye-healthy diet
Certain nutrients found naturally in specific foods are helpful for maintaining good eye health. These nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, the antioxidant duo of lutein and zeaxanthin, copper, zinc, vitamins A, E & C and beta-carotene.³
So what foods are good sources of these eye-saving nutrients?
Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and anchovies are all good sources of omega-3s, which are important in protecting your retinas (the part of your eyes that receive light and transmit information to your brain).
Carrots & sweet potatoes: These veggies are orange because of their high levels of beta-carotene, which aids in the production of vitamin A, which helps your eyes absorb light
Leafy greens: Dark greens like kale, collard greens and spinach are what you’re looking for; they’ll provide you with plenty of vitamin C, as well as powerful antioxidants.
Beans: Black-eyed peas, kidney beans and lima beans can all help your eyes, as they’ll get you the omega-3s, zinc, and vitamin E that support clear vision.
Eggs: Eggs have the antioxidant duo lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect the macula, the area of the eye that gives us our central, most detailed vision. Eggs are also a good source of zinc and vitamins C & E.
Schedule regular eye exams
Even if you’re diligent in protecting yourself from eyestrain and eating an eye-healthy diet, it’s important that you see a vision care specialist on a regular basis, at least once every two years.
An eye doctor can determine whether or not you’d see better with glasses or contacts, which can help you avoid eyestrain. Getting an eye exam every one to two years will help you keep a lookout for potential vision issues before they become bigger problems.
Get vision insurance
You may not make it a priority to see your eye doctor regularly if you’re worried about the cost of the exam or recommended treatments. Whether you’re freelancing full-time or contracting after work, vision insurance can help save you money on yearly exams, frames, contacts, and more.
With a vision plan from Guardian Direct®, you can receive an annual vision exam for just $15 and your choice of prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses every 12 months. You’ll also receive discounts on popular upgrades, such as designer frames or special lens coatings. You can even save on laser vision correction with 15% off the regular price or 5% off the promotional price at participating VSP network locations.
Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.
Vision insurance is provided by VSP and billing and premium collection services for such vision insurance are conducted by DTC GLIC, LLC (d/b/a DTC GLIC Insurance Sales, LLC in California). DTC GLIC, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America ("Guardian"). Guardian and DTC GLIC, LLC are not affiliated with VSP and Guardian and DTC GLIC, LLC do not assume any responsibility or liability for non-Guardian products or services, including those offered by VSP.GUARDIAN® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®.
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https://time.com/4789208/screens-computer-eye-strain/ (Last accessed November 2019)
https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome (Last accessed November 2019)
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/fabulous-foods-your-eyes (Last accessed November 2019)
https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-exam/preparing.htm (Last accessed November 2019)