When thinking about what goes into being a voice actor, the focus is often and understandably on working to develop and improve skills at the microphone. However, it is important to know that a voice actor’s eye health is just as important as the health of their vocal cords. With HR News reporting that around 77% of adults in the UK have strained eyes after a long day at work, it is undeniable that voice actors are some of the people who experience this issue. If left unchecked, this can lead to a myriad of long-term issues, which is why eye health among professionals is considered a major concern among optometrists in the UK and Ireland.
Why eye health should be a priority for voice actors
With the eyes being the windows to the soul, voice actors typically use them to express emotion alongside their voices. This is especially the case when voice actors do recording alongside their fellow actors, where visual cues between them are critical to be able to throw lines at one another naturally. This is no surprise, as voiceover skills actually involve a lot of physical factors beyond just the voice. If a voice actor’s eyes are strained, dry, or tired, it would be more difficult for them to give a convincing performance. Many voice actors work in environments that can be harsh against the eyes, mainly dim recording booths and studios, with a glaring screen only inches away from their faces. Good vision, in general, is also important, as they do a lot of reading on the job—typically in these same harsh conditions—which is a major recipe for eye fatigue.
As such, it is important for voice actors to take active steps in ensuring their eye health. To get started, here are some ways in which voice actors can take better care of their eyes.
Make the 20-20-20 rule a habit
It is well known that excessive exposure to screen lights is bad for the eyes, and in the workplace it is advised to take breaks from them every few minutes. Working on your own as a freelance voiceover should be no different. The best way to practise this is by following the 20-20-20 rule in which a person should stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This tip is extremely helpful for voice actors working long hours in dim studios, as this lessens the feeling of eye strain.
A simple reminder using a timer device or even alarm applications on smartphones can help with reminding voice actors to take these breaks. The more frequently this rule is practised, it will ultimately end up turning into a habit that can help maintain eye health in the long run.
Invest in blue light glasses
While taking breaks from screens is important, the type of light voice actors are exposed to is often overlooked. Screens and fluorescents emit blue light, a high-energy visible light that is extremely damaging to our eyes. Because the nature of a voice actor’s work does not allow you to avoid these lights completely, taking a preventative measure in the form of blue light glasses is an optimal way to reduce the damage to your eyes.
These glasses have anti-reflection filters built into their lenses, designed to reflect high-energy light away from the eyes. They are also customisable with frames in a variety of styles, prescriptions for those who need vision correction, and different types of blue light lenses such as BlueReflect™ lenses and KODAK UVBlue lenses to suit. Glasses like these are ideal for voice actors as they will provide protection and comfort on the job.
You may also want to investigate if your computer/monitor enables a blue light setting or way to adjust the colour temperature as this could help too.
Utilise artificial tears
Alongside keeping eyes protected from harmful light, lubrication is essential for voice actors to further avoid eye strain and fatigue. This can be done by using artificial tears like Carmize or Optive, which are carmellose sodium eye drops that work by providing moisture on the outer surface of the eye. The use of artificial tears is typically limited to a few times a day. However, they can be used more frequently for more irritated eyes.
For voice actors working long hours in eye-straining environments, it may be best to utilise them whenever they are on breaks. Voice actors who use this product regularly will find that their eyes will start to feel more comfortable and that they can perform for longer periods of time without experiencing any visual discomfort.
Written by Barbara Stone for voiceoverkickstart.com