Take a Screen Time Break!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what we do for entertainment, and if you’re like many people, you’re probably spending more time on a computer, smart phone, tablet or other technology … all with screens.

Focusing on a computer display, tablet or other device has been shown to reduce blinking up to one-third to one-half of the usual rate, according to some studies. We may also be sitting for longer periods of time in a position that causes neck and back strain, or the angle of our computer screen is incorrect. We should take frequent eye and body checks to assess how we’re feeling.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests these simple tips to help avoid eye strain:

  1. Keep your distance. The eyes actually have to work harder to see up close than far away. Try keeping your monitor or screen at arm’s length, about 25 inches away. Position the screen so that your eyes gaze slightly downward.
  2. Reduce glare. Glass screens can produce glare that can aggravate the eye. Try using a matte screen filter.
  3. Adjust your lighting. If your screen is much brighter than the ambient light around you, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
  4. Give your eyes a break. Remember to blink and follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking into the distance allows your eyes to relax.
  5. Keep your eyes moist. Keep artificial tears at hand to help lubricate your eyes when they feel dry. Keep in mind that air conditioning and heaters can aggravate dry eyes.
  6. Stop using devices before bed. There is evidence that blue light may affect the body’s circadian rhythm … our natural wake and sleep cycle. During the day, blue light awakens and stimulates us. Too much blue light exposure from your phone or other devices late at night may make it difficult to get to sleep. Use nighttime settings on devices and computers to minimize blue light exposure, and limit your screen time one to two hours before bedtime.