With the arrival of colder weather, you may have noticed you are spending more time indoors. Staying cozy can mean working from home or just watching movies, streaming your favorite shows and checking social media.
Focusing on a computer or screen without taking breaks can give you headaches and make your eyes feel tired and dry. Digital eye strain does not permanently damage vision, but it can make you fatigued and reduce productivity.
“We focus on one object, especially an object that’s up close, like a computer screen or phone, for prolonged periods of time, and we don’t give our eye muscles time to rest,” said Masih Ahmed, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor.
Adjust Your Habits to Reduce Eye Strain
Being cooped up in winter usually means more screen time, but it does not mean you have to sacrifice your eye comfort. You can protect your eyes from digital eye strain by making easy adjustments to your habits. Here are 10 tips to help you keep your eyes more comfortable in winter:
- Blink more often. People blink about 15 times per minute, on average, but blink rate tends to decrease by 50 percent when using screens. Blinking provides essential lubrication to the eyes to provide moisture, so although blinking is an involuntary reflex, it is important to voluntarily blink more often than you think is necessary.
- Reduce glare on computers and phones. Most computers and smartphones have glare and can make your eyes irritated. A matte screen filter can help reduce glare in the day hours, so check with your computer or cell phone store. Most electronics include night filters that reduce glare.
- Use computer eyeglasses. If you notice that your eyes are bothering you when you work on the computer, you may want to talk to your ophthalmologist about prescription glasses for intermediate distance. Wearing computer eyeglasses can reduce eye strain and prevent eye fatigue.
- Adjust the brightness of your screen. Increase the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain and adjust the screen brightness to match the amount of light around you.
- Adjust your computer. Try to keep your computer screen at eye level. The optimal distance between your computer and your eyes should be 25 inches.
- Use artificial tears. Cold, dry temperatures can make your eyes itchy and tired. Artificial tears can refresh and rejuvenate your eyes.
- Adjust your air vents. Position air vents so the air flow does not blow directly into your face. This will help your eyes feel more comfortable.
- Use a humidifier. If your eyes feel dry and you notice you are rubbing them often, consider purchasing a humidifier and use it in your office during the winter months.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Taking regular breaks throughout the workday is crucial and necessary. Every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Take a break from contacts. If you wear contact lenses, you may want to try wearing your glasses if your eyes get watery, itchy or irritated or if you experience blurred vision (AAO).
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam in 2024
A new year provides opportunities for you to renew your commitment to your eye health. When was the last time you made an appointment with your eye doctor? Yearly comprehensive eye exams can detect changes in your vision and diagnose eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration at an early stage when they are the most treatable. Why not make it a New Year’s Resolution to call your eye doctor today?
Find an Ophthalmologist in Your Area
Make eye care a priority in 2024. Are you looking for a board-certified ophthalmologist? We can help you find a physician in your area who is accepting new patients.