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How to Protect Your Eyes from Strain

Since the invention of televisions, there have been many questions about how screens affect our vision. The digital age introduced computers to schools and workplaces, with some adults now staring at a PC screen for over eight hours a day, five days a week. Now with the addition of tablets and smartphones, it seems like the average person cannot go five minutes without seeing some kind of screen.

All of this screen use is alarming vision experts and optometrists as well. As little as two hours of screen time a day (and that includes ALL screens) can cause digital eyestrain. This is that tired, dry, and achy feeling your eyes get after a long screen session. Since the average person spends almost their entire day looking at some type of screen, digital eyestrain is a widespread issue. According to The Vision Council, an optical non-profit, finds that 93% of Americans are at risk for it.  If you look up from the screen and have issues readjusting your sight or have bloodshot eyeballs, you’re in trouble.

“When we look at a screen, we blink less often than if we’re looking around a room or reading a book, and that makes our eyes dry and increases strain,” says optometrist Cristina Schnider, O.D. “The other problem is, it’s hard for the eye to focus on the screen because the screen is sloped.” Add the fact that many images and text on your phone is incredibly small, you often have to squint to see it properly.

While it is nearly impossible for most people to completely remove screens from our lives, especially in the workplace, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of eyestrain. Even glancing away for a few moments throughout the day can help.  “Every 10 or 20 minutes, get in the habit of looking up from the screen and finding a distant object to focus on, which gets you back to a normal blinking pattern and restores moisture,” says Schnider. The Vision Council has a nickname for the method: “20-20-20.” Their rule is every twenty minutes, look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds. It’s that simple.

It is vital that we protect our eyes from strain, especially since Americans spend on average eight hours a day looking at some type of screen. As with anything take a short break every now and again; maybe while you look away from your computer at work, you could also take the chance the stand and stretch briefly. Your eyes and back will thank you.

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