Screen time is an unavoidable part of our lives. But eye strain can be prevented with these tips.
Are your eyes aching by the end of the day? Do you find yourself squinting or are you getting headaches? If so, you may be experiencing eye strain.
Eye strain is a common occurrence. This is especially true if you spend a good part of your day looking at a digital device, such as a computer, tablet or phone. Symptoms include eye fatigue, eye irritation (redness, dryness), eye twitching or blurry vision. You may also experience headaches, neck, shoulder or back pain.
Here are 8 ways to prevent eye strain and get relief:
- Limit screen time. You may not have control over how much time you spend looking at a screen for work, but you can control what you do with the rest of your day. The less time you spend glued to your phone, computer, tablet or television, the more your eyes will thank you.
- Adjust lighting. Light that is too bright or not bright enough can strain your eyes. Use soft ambient lighting, eliminate harsh exterior light by closing window treatments and position your screen so light is to the side, rather than in front or behind the screen.
- Minimize glare. If you notice light reflecting off your screen, install an anti-glare cover. If that’s not possible and you wear glasses, consider lenses with an anti-reflective coating.
- Position your screen properly. Whether you look at a computer, tablet or phone, position the screen about an arm’s length from your eyes. It should also be at or slightly below eye level.
- Modify display settings. There are a number of settings on digital devices that can be changed. Adjust the brightness so it’s not too bright or too dark. Increase the text size if you’re straining to read. Reduce the color temperature to decrease the amount of blue light emitted, which can strain your eyes.
- Blink more often. People tend to blink less frequently than normal when staring at a screen, which can lead to dry eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink more often to keep eyes lubricated. If your eyes still feel dry, use lubricating eye drops like artificial tears (not the drops that “get the red out”) to add moisture.
- Take frequent breaks. Your eyes get tired when they focus on the same thing for too long. Look away from your screen every 20 minutes at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Referred to as the 20-20-20 rule, this relaxes the muscles in your eyes and reduces eye fatigue. Not only do your eyes need a break, but so do your neck, shoulders and back. At least once an hour, stand and stretch to reduce muscle fatigue and tension.
- Get your eyes checked. Routine eye exams can help detect vision problems, which can lead to eye strain. Eye professionals can also make recommendations aimed at easing eye strain, such as suggesting certain types of glasses, lenses or coatings.
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Date Last Reviewed: January 12, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD