Looking at screens all the time? Here’s how to take care of your eyes.

Looking at screens all the time? Here’s how to take care of your eyes.

In a world already filled with screens and screen time, COVID-19 has meant even more hours in front of computers, televisions and smart phones for many people across all ages.

Too much screen time has shown to affect sleep, has strong links to obesity and other issues, but it can also have a big effect on what you use to do that staring — your eyes.

“For many reasons, cutting down on screen time is challenging for most, especially with so many working remotely and spending more time than ever before in front of computer screens, mobile phones and television monitors,” says Dr. Shelby Helmeid, an optometrist at Aurora Health Center in Hartford, WI. “But even taking some small steps can do a world of good for your eye health and eyesight.”

It is important to note, she says, that computer overuse generally will not permanently damage the eyes. Instead, it can cause eyestrain – a common but uncomfortable condition that can cause:

  • Eye soreness, tiredness and dryness
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Reduced attention span and problems concentrating
  • Blurred or double vision

While we can’t divorce our lives from screens entirely, Dr. Helmeid recommends these self-care tips to help manage and possibly eliminate symptoms:

  • Take breaks: This is one of the most straightforward and effective solutions. To help ease eyestrain, a good rule of thumb is to use the popular “20/20/20” exercise. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away from you.
  • Keep proper posture: Proper desk ergonomics isn’t just for your spine, wrists and hips. Your screen should be upwards of two to three feet away from your eyes as well as at eye level to reduce the amount of work your eyes must do to read what’s on it.
  • Reduce screen glare: Another consideration for your office or entertainment set-up is cutting down glare from the sun or other bright lights. While it’s not as powerful as staring straight at the source, it can still cause problems for your eyes if you stare too long at a bright reflection.
  • Don’t forget to blink: When the human brain focuses on something, our eyes tend to blink less and more quickly than usual when focusing on something. That leads to further strain and dryness. Be sure to incorporate some slow blinks as you work.
  • Consider enlarging your type: Looking at larger type can help people of all ages who spend a lot of time reading.
  • Consider special glasses for older people: For some, optometrists can prescribe special glasses specifically for computer use. Ask your optometrist if they are right for you.

If these self-care tips don’t relive your eyestrain symptoms, Dr. Helmeid recommends a visit your doctor.

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  1. Great article!! Thank you so much!

  2. Thanks for timely article, as adults and kids are spending more time than ever on computers and electronics! I’d just like to add the importance of wearing Performance Lenses that block out the blue light emitted by the electronics. Not just “Special glasses for older people”…we got these for my kids and myself. (Some optometrists will prescribe these, hopefully yours would do this)
    It’s also recommended to stop looking at electronics a certain period of time before bed, not sure if it’s 1 or 2 hours before bed.

  3. This was great advice! Thank you for this article.

  4. I have been doing the 20-20-20 rule for years – it does work. Even my grand kids are doing it.
    What can be tough is get to off the small phone screen.
    There is no need for constant looking at your social media feeds at all hours of the day and night.
    Do you always believe what you see on the internet ? or social media ?
    Have set times at home to make sure no one is on their phones or tablet or computer – your kids will thank you later.
    Net net is give your eyes a rest.

  5. So, do regular reading glasses protect the eyes from blue light, or do I need reading glasses with a special coating?

    • Gary, there are special lenses for blocking the blue-light, they don’t usually come that way. If you know your prescription you could try a cheaper glasses site like Zenni to try out a pair on the cheaper end.

  6. My eye doctor, Dr. Carlino always lets his patients know this as well. I am so grateful for him.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.