For many of us, sitting in front of a computer for several hours a day is a necessity. Screens have infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives—from work to communication to entertainment—but all of this staring at a computer screen may be damaging your eyesight.
While there is currently no official medical condition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology dubs the issue “digital-related eye strain” and the American Optometric Association calls it “computer vision syndrome.” Regardless of its name, the symptoms that affect workplace health may include headaches, blurry and strained eyes, dry eyes or neck and back pain.
Luckily, all of these symptoms can be treated and minimized with just a few small changes to your work routine. If you’ve noticed screen time affecting your eyes, try these few tips to relieve strain.
6 Tips for Relieving Digital-related Eyestrain
1. Take a break
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, look away at something 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a much-needed break, but isn’t likely to dramatically throw off your productivity.
2. Give yourself some distance
Hunching over and staring at your computer screen from 6 inches away isn’t good for your posture or your eyes. Instead, position your body about an arm’s length away from your screen and make sure you’re sitting slightly taller than your computer so you’re looking down on the screen.
3. Blink more
Some studies have found computer users are less likely to blink as frequently and completely when looking at their screens. Since blinking helps to lubricate your eyes, making the effort to regulate your blinking when looking at your computer can help keep your eyes from becoming overly irritated.
4. Invest in an anti-glare screen filter
If the lighting in your workspace causes significant glare, you may want to invest in an anti-glare screen filter, which can reduce the amount of light reflected from your screen and allow your eyes some relief.
5. Use eye drops
Artificial tears can help ease the irritation of eye dryness, so consider keeping a small bottle at your desk in case you need it.
6. Choose glasses over contacts
Wearing contacts can make your eyes feel irritated and dry without the added strain of staring at a screen, so opting for glasses on long workdays can be a good option to give your eyes a break.
If you’re worried about how your eyes are reacting to long periods of screen time, make an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss other ways to relieve eye strain. And, when in doubt, try simply closing your eyes for a short period of time—just be careful not to take an accidental nap!