Unlike traditional art-making without the use of screens, artists nowadays find comfort in using digital devices such as laptops, tablets, and even phones when it comes to illustrating. There are lots of advantages when it comes to creating art through digital devices, but along these advantages come the disadvantages—and those are the effects of using too many digital devices for a long time.
As a digital artist, health is also important. In every job whether it may require huge amounts of effort or if it requires working at home, health is always important and the threat of diseases will always be there. Since computers, tablets, and phones are operated by electronics, they are expected to emit blue light from their screens. Some research done by others has shown that blue light may increase the risk of having eye diseases like macular degeneration and eye strain, caused by just looking at screens for too long. It is also said to disrupt the body's circadian rhythm making it hard to fall asleep especially at night. While some say that blue light is not harmful, there are still other health disadvantages other than that. Taking care of your health is essential to work as it could help you be more productive, creative, and active in what you are doing.
The first step to being aware of your health is to know your symptoms. If you know you are already experiencing pain and aches all over your body especially on your head, neck, and shoulders, then you better check and observe yourself while looking at a computer screen to know what makes your body ache like that.
Looking at computer or tablet screens for too long doesn't just cause damage to the eyes, but also damage to almost each and every part of your body. Here are some of the most common computer-related health problems and how to determine, treat, and prevent them.
Eye Strain - This is probably the most common computer or tablet-related health problem that could be experienced by many digital artists. Eye strain occurs when you look into a computer or tablet screen for too long. The eyes get tired from overuse causing unsettling symptoms such as headaches, blurry vision, neck pain, and dry eyes. Although the symptoms are a bit concerning, this is a common discomfort that most people working in front of computer and tablet screens experience.
To prevent eye strain from working too much in front of a computer, here are some things to help you:
Take eye breaks. For instance, the famous and effective 20-20-20 rule is suggested to many. This said "rule" states that every 20 minutes spent in front of a computer or tablet screen, you should take an eye break and look away to focus on something that is 20 feet from you for 20 seconds. Set a timer every 20 minutes when you are doing a digital illustration and do this relaxing eye exercise to lessen the risk of experiencing eye strain.
Blink often. This is an easy way to keep our eyes lubricated with tears as we keep on working in front of a digital screen. It is important to blink as often as you can to prevent having dry eyes.
Adjust your computer screen or monitor. Having to look at your computer screen while looking up or down too much, is at risk for getting dizzy spells after you work. Make sure that you'll adjust your computer screen at a height and angle that best matches your comfort and doesn't strain your eyes while looking at it.
Fix your screen's brightness. If you feel that the brightness of your screen is too high and makes you dizzy, then you should consider lowering your brightness to better help your eyes adjust and be comfortable. Higher levels of brightness can often be the culprit to eye strain and other eye problems.
Eye Redness - Since you might be focusing too much on the computer screen, you tend to forget to blink most of the time. And because of this, you'll lack enough moisture in your eyes. Many experts say that when we focus on something especially a computer screen, people blink 66% less often than average.
Eye Exercises To Prevent Eye Strain, Eye Redness, etc.
Blinking - Blinking is known as the most essential thing to do when facing the computer and tablet screen because it moistures and lubricates the eyes. It is a good way to prevent dry eyes.
Flexing - This is also a known exercise that stretches and strengthens the eye muscles. All you have to do is face forward and look straight ahead, then look up and down 10 times without moving your head. When you're done, look to the left and right 10 more times also with moving the head.
The figure of Eight - If you want to ensure that your eye muscles maintain flexibility, stare at a blank wall and imagine a figure of eight titled to the side that is 10 feet away. Trace the path of this figure of eight without moving your head, and do it one way in a minute. After that, repeat the step but in a revised way.
Rest - Resting your eyes is also a form of eye exercise. Don't forget to look away from your computer or tablet screen every 20 minutes or do the 20-20-20 rule to make sure that you won't get an eye strain.
Other Health Problems
Musculoskeletal Pain - This refers to pain experienced in the neck, chest, back, arms, and shoulders. Due to focusing on our computer or tablet screens, we tend to be unaware of our posture and we often bend our necks down or forward too much. Because of our uneven posture when making art through computer and tablet screens, we often experience stiff neck or shoulder pain. Several stretching exercises are required to prevent these types of body pains from happening.
Stress - Believe it or not, even if you are doing what you love such as illustrating through a computer or tablet, you are still highly prone to stress. Radiation and blue light from the screens can disrupt our circadian rhythm, and when it happens, we wouldn't be getting enough sleep... which leads to stress. Having to settle your time correctly for using computer and tablet screens is important because you can manage the time that you are using and at the same time, it could still give you a good night's sleep.
Behavioral Problems - Radiation and blue light don’t just cause physical but also, emotional symptoms. If you spend time on your computer and tablet screens all the time, it may greatly affect how your brain perceives information... causing you to be aggressive even over little matters. In order to avoid this, screen breaks are really important. Take a look around your surroundings or eat your favorite food in the middle of illustrating. Always remember that you don't have to rush things. Just stay calm and try your best to relax if you feel like you are stressed.
Being a digital artist isn't just drawing, illustrating, or making art—it is also something that consumes your body and can make you run out of energy. Even if you're just sitting in front of a computer or tablet screen, the time that you spend on it for hours is enough to make you tired. It is better to be aware of your health, not just sometimes but most of the time. If you are not healthy enough, you won't be able to focus on doing your passion which is illustrating and making art. As always, health is wealth.
Author: Blaine Kaye Morales