You have likely heard of the T.V. show 20/20 and you are probably familiar with 20-20-20 fertilizer for your lawn, but did you know that there is a 20-20-20 principle to promote healthy vision?
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Millions of Americans suffer from digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. Common symptoms of digital eye strain include eye irritation, redness, dry eye, back pain, neck stiffness and headaches. These physical symptoms are directly related to spending multiple hours staring at computer screens, smartphones, tablets, e-readers or televisions.
Taking regular breaks is the most effective way to protect your vision and maintain eye comfort throughout your day. This can be done by observing the 20-20-20 rule, which states that for every 20 minutes spent using a screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds.
Taking a Break Every 20 Minutes Helps with Dry Eye
Staring at digital screens decreases your blink rate and puts you at risk for dry eye. When you take a break every 20 minutes, you resume a normal blink rate and your eyes become moistened and refreshed. You can remind yourself to take breaks every 20 minutes by using a timer on your computer screen or by downloading a free app like Eye Care 20 20 20.
Taking a Break Every 20 Seconds Helps Keep Eyes Relaxed
Studies show that it takes the eyes about 20 seconds to fully relax. If you are working on a tight deadline you may be tempted to skimp on your 20-second break, but give your eyes the full time they need. You will experience fewer headaches and less eye irritation. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your eyes hydrated and try some green tea for a boost of catechins. These antioxidants increase tear production.
Taking a Break for a Short Walk Helps Return Focus
Sometimes, the easiest way to change the depth of your focus is to leave your computer or device for a moment and take a short walk. If the weather is pleasant, treat yourself to a moment outside (source: Healthline).
If you are experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain on a regular basis, make an appointment with your eye doctor. Pay special attention to whether you are experiencing double vision or blurred vision, and discuss your concerns with your ophthalmologist. Find a board-certified ophthalmologist in your area by clicking here.