How to Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Top 5 Tips to Avoid Digital Eye Strain

Our lives are increasingly centered around screens — at work, at home and at play. As our amount of time in front of computers, phones, tablets and other screens increases, digital eye strain is becoming a significant issue.

Digital eye strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, refers to a range of symptoms associated with viewing digital screens for extended periods of time. According to the American Optometric Association , the most common symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain. The symptoms usually worsen the longer you are in front of a screen.

Though the easiest solution may appear to be reducing screen time, for many of us who use computers in our workplace, that’s not a possibility. The good news is there are other simple steps you can take to make your screentime more comfortable and less damaging for your eyes.

1. Take a break.

The American Optometric Association suggests the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to focus on something 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a break from staring at something close to your face and lets them refocus. You should also give your eyes a break from screens for 15 minutes after every two hours you’ve been working.

2. Relocate the computer screen.

Your computer should ideally be positioned about 20-28 inches from the eye and about 4 or 5 inches below eye level, as most people find it more comfortable to view a computer while looking downward slightly.

3. Adjust lighting to avoid glare or use an anti-glare screen.

Position your computer screen so that there isn’t glare from windows or overhead lighting. If this isn’t possible in your office or another setting, consider using a screen glare filter to decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.

4. Blink.

Your blink rate typically decreases when you’re doing intensive digital work, so a conscious effort to blink is necessary to keep your corneas coated. A conscious effort to blink every 10 to 15 seconds can minimize your chances of developing dry eye and keep your vision sharper while you work.

5. Try palming.

Palming is basically a meditation method for the eyes. It consists of closing your eyes and placing the centers of your palms over them. As you take deep, slow breaths, focus on relaxing your eye muscles and your shoulders and neck. Tension in your shoulders and neck can also contribute to tension in your eyes, so relaxing that area with a massage or deep breathing can be beneficial.

Regular eye examinations are also beneficial for monitoring and reducing the symptoms associated with digital eye strain. The most important aspect is to pay attention to your eyes and give them the breaks and adjustments they need. If you have difficulty pulling yourself away from work, setting a timer can be a good way to remind yourself to give your eyes a break. If you follow these tips, you should be able to continue working at computers without the strain or discomfort.

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