Digital eye strain: Tips on managing the impact of screen time
Increased screen exposure brings with it a growing concern – digital eye strain. Health experts share effective tips on managing the impact of screen time
In our modern, fast-paced world, screens have seamlessly integrated into our daily routines and whether we are working on computers, scrolling through social media on smartphones or indulging in our favourite shows on tablets, the time spent in front of screens has soared. This increased screen exposure, however, brings with it a growing concern – digital eye strain.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director - India at Orbis, explained, “Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, encompasses a range of eye and vision-related issues resulting from prolonged digital device use such as headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision and dry eyes. As our reliance on screens continues to rise, it becomes imperative to adopt strategies to manage and minimize the impact of digital eye strain on our overall well-being.”
He suggested the following tips to manage the impact of screen time -
- The 20-20-20 Rule: When working on a desktop, ensure that your screen is at eye level, about an arm's length away and that you are sitting in a comfortable, well-supported chair. Prolonged exposure to screens without breaks is a significant contributor to digital eye strain. The 20-20-20 rule proves invaluable in mitigating this strain: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes of screen usage and look at something 20 feet away. Incorporating this simple habit into your routine helps reduce eye strain and keeps your eyes refreshed. This can also be done by setting timers or using apps that remind you to take these regular breaks, ensuring your eyes get the rest they need.
- Adjusting Brightness: The brightness of your screens plays an important role in eye comfort. Adjust your device brightness to match your surroundings, avoiding both excessive and low brightness that can put a strain on your eyes. Besides, consider using dark or night mode in the evenings to decrease exposure to blue light, which has been associated with disrupted sleep patterns.
- Blinking and Eye Moisture: Blinking, often overlooked, is crucial for maintaining eye moisture. Extended screen time can lead to reduced blinking frequency, resulting in dry and irritated eyes. Therefore, make a conscious effort to blink regularly as it keeps your eyes lubricated. If necessary, use artificial tears recommended by a healthcare professional to alleviate persistent dryness.
- Screen Quality Matters: Invest in high-resolution screens with anti-glare technology to minimize eye strain. Anti-glare filters can be added to existing screens, diminishing reflections and glare. Besides, regular eye check-ups are essential to address any underlying vision problems promptly.
He asserted, “Managing digital eye strain requires a proactive approach. Incorporate simple habits like taking regular screen breaks, adjusting screen brightness and maintaining proper ergonomics into your daily routine to reduce eye strain. Being mindful of your screen time and adopting these strategies not only enhances visual comfort but also contributes to your overall well-being. Striking a healthy balance between screen use and eye care is key to preserving your vision in a screen-centric world.”
Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Aparajita R Pandey, DNB Ophthalmologist, Eye Consultant and Surgeon at Regency Hospital, recommended -
1. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Encourage individuals to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. This helps reduce eye fatigue by giving the eyes a chance to relax and refocus.
2. Adjust screen settings: Suggest adjusting the brightness, contrast, and font size of screens to make them more comfortable to view. Additionally, using blue light filters or night mode settings can reduce the strain on the eyes, especially when using screens in low-light environments.
3. Maintain proper posture: Remind people to sit at an appropriate distance from their screens (about arm's length away) and to position screens so that they are at eye level or slightly below. This can help reduce neck and shoulder strain, as well as alleviate eye discomfort.
4. Take regular breaks: Encourage individuals to incorporate regular breaks into their screen time routine. Short breaks every hour can help prevent eye strain and other physical discomfort associated with prolonged sitting and screen use.
5. Practice good screen habits: Encourage people to blink regularly while using screens to prevent dry eyes, and remind them to consciously relax their facial muscles and avoid squinting. Additionally, discourage excessive screen use before bedtime to promote better sleep quality.
6. Consider blue light protection: For individuals who spend significant amounts of time in front of screens, especially in the evening, suggest using blue light-blocking glasses or screen filters. These can help reduce exposure to blue light, which has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns and eye strain.
7. Eye exams: Encourage regular eye exams, especially for those who spend a lot of time using screens. An eye doctor can detect any vision problems early on and recommend appropriate corrective measures or adjustments to screen use habits.
8. Practice the 10-10-10 rule: For tasks that require intense concentration, like reading or detailed work, suggest the 10-10-10 rule: every 10 minutes, take a 10-second break to look at something 10 feet away. This can help alleviate eye strain and maintain focus.
9. Use lubricating eye drops: In cases of persistent dry eyes or discomfort, recommend the use of lubricating eye drops to keep the eyes moist and comfortable during screen use.
She concluded, “By incorporating these strategies into their daily routines, individuals can help mitigate the impact of screen time on their eyes and overall well-being. However, it's essential to remember that everyone's needs and preferences are different, so encourage experimentation to find what works best for each individual.”