According to recent reports, American adults spend at least 10 hours per day with their eyes fixed on a screen. Too much screen time is an issue often associated with children, but it can have significant consequences for adults as well. Whether it’s working on a computer, watching TV, scrolling through social media pages on a smartphone, or reading e-books, looking at screens can really affect a person’s eye health.
Here are some ways to offset the effects of screen time on your eyes and prevent eye strain from the many electronic devices in your life.
Take Frequent Screen Breaks
One of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health while looking at screens is to take frequent breaks. You may have heard of the 20-20-20 rule, which involves doing your best to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes you’re working on a screen. But you can do better than that by actually getting up from your desk or couch to move not only your eyes, but the rest of your body too.
Let in Natural Light
Fluorescent lights make you more susceptible to eye strain, so let natural light into your room while looking at a screen. If natural light isn’t available because of the time of day or lack of windows, invest in a natural light lamp that mimics the light from the sun. These types of lighting fixtures come in the form of desk lamps and floor lamps and have shown to help reduce eye strain while working.
Increase Your Distance from the Screen
Many people sit too close to their screens, which is a recipe for disaster with regard to eye strain. Try to sit at least 20 inches away from your screen, or about an arm length’s away. If you find it too hard to read text at that distance, increase the text size on your display rather than moving closer.
Minimize Screen Glare
A screen that glares due to natural or artificial light is more likely to cause you eye strain. If you wear glasses, choose ones with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you can get non-prescription glasses designed for computer use to reduce glare.
Adjust Your Brightness and Contrast Settings
In addition to adjusting your screen’s test size, you can also prevent eye strain by increasing the brightness and contrast of your display. With just a few easy tweaks on your computer or phone, you can work that extra hour without feeling dryness in your eyes or getting headaches.
Do Some Eye Exercises
It surprises some people to learn that your eyes have their very own muscles and that these muscles need exercise too. When you take breaks from screen time, gently massage your eyes with your eyelids closed to prevent eye strain. It also helps to look up, down, left, and right during screen time breaks to get a full range of motion in the eyes and reduce dryness. Simply blinking more often is another easy exercise to do while looking at a screen.
Eat Eye-Healthy Foods
Carrots are the quintessential food for eye health because they are rich in beta-carotene and help prevent vitamin A deficiencies. However, other foods that have been linked to eye health include fish, kale, eggs, and sweet potatoes. Make a point to pack these foods into your lunch for work, and then actually take a screen-free lunch break to enjoy them and see better for the rest of the day.