20.20.20 Rule: Digital screens and your eyes – By Dr Ify Monye

Adanna stared hard at her screen. Everything appeared blurry and her eyes hurt. She put her head on the table in frustration. Her proposal was nowhere near ready and the deadline was the next day. She checked the time on her watch. It was already 2.35pm. She had been working since 8am with hardly any break. She used to spend a lot of time on the field. But this new job came with more responsibilities, deadlines and computer-related work. She never used to have problems with her eye sight, but lately, there seemed to be a new problem every day.

Her eyes had a burning sensation and things became blurry after only a few hours working on her laptop. She also felt an almost constant pain in her neck and shoulders. She wondered how much more of these she would have to endure. She had to find a solution fast…

Do your eyes ache and feel uncomfortable after you’ve spent hours on end working on your computer or poring over your phone? You may have Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain. This often arises from prolonged viewing of computer screens and other digital devices without adequate breaks.

Common symptoms include eye strain or irritation, blurry vision, headache and neck and shoulder pain. Having a pre-existing vision-related problem can make it worse.

Computer Vision Syndrome can be due to excessive glare from the computer or mobile device, poor lighting of the work environment, inappropriate viewing distance and poor sitting posture.

Here are some tips that may help prevent Computer Vision Syndrome:

  • Observe the 20-20-20 rule: It’s quite easy. Be sure to take a 20-second break to look at something across the room about 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
  • Blink frequently – When we’re focused on work, we often forget to blink which reduces the amount of natural lubrication the eye gets. Artificial tear drops or lubricants may help.
  • Control environmental lighting – The environment should be well lit, but there should be no bright light reflecting directly on the screen, for instance from a window directly beside or behind you. Window blinds can help.
  • Control glare from your device – The screen light should be of about the same intensity as the environment. Use glare filters and screen covers or reduce the light on your device.
  • Good sitting posture: Sit upright at arm’s length from the computer, feet firmly on the ground, with the screen slightly below eye level. Reference materials should be positioned so can easily access them by moving your eyes, not your head.

So, you can beat those deadlines without putting too much strain on your eyes.

#eyehealth #healthyvision #computervisionsyndrome

Dr Ify Monye


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