As many of us continue to work remotely and the school year starts with distance learning, kids and adults alike are finding ourselves spending more and more time on our computers. As a result, many of us have experienced what we call “digital fatigue.” This happens when we spend several hours a day focused on a backlit blue screen – be it on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or smart phone. All of these devices have similar screens and our eyes are not built to stare at them all day. So, here are 10 simple tips we can all use to help alleviate symptoms like eye strain, fatigue, blurry vision, and dry eyes:
- First and foremost, make sure you have a dedicated work area and are sitting in a comfortable chair that is ergonomically set up so your feet are resting flat on the ground with straight back and wrists.
- Your screen should be 3-4 inches below eye level and anywhere from 20-28 inches away from your eyes.
- Tilt your screen to minimize glare from overhead lights or windows. Adjust the lighting on your device to match your environment (turn down your screen light in a darker room)
- Adjust your lighting further by choosing a “blue blocking” app or setting on your screen. (An example of this is iPhone’s “Night Shift”). Blue light can cause even more eye strain and fatigue, so it’s best to limit our exposure to it as much as possible.
- Make sure you are wearing your most recent eyeglass prescription (if you need one for the computer) and that the lenses have a blue blocker in them. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in the past year, please do so. Even small prescription changes can make a big difference by helping your eyes see clearly and work better together.
- If you don’t need a prescription, you can get non-prescription blue blocking glasses. You can find them at your optometrist’s office or online.
- Adjust your font size so you’re not straining your eyes.
- Remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a break from the screen and allows your eye muscles to relax by looking far away.
- As silly as this sounds, remember to blink! We blink 2/3 less often while using screens, so remember to take breaks, use lubricating drops, and blink more often. Believe me, your eyes will thank you for it!
- Try to spend at least 2 hours a day outside – playing, exercising, taking a walk, going on a hike or a bike ride – anything fun that takes you outside and away from your screen for some much needed Vitamin D. Just don’t forget to wear your sunglasses and your mask!
By Dr. Telma Barseghian, OD