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Screen Overload: Tips for Preventing Eyestrain 

From smartphones to computer screens and everything in between, we are bombarded by visual experiences from morning until bedtime.

Taking frequent breaks is important to prevent eyestrain. Here are some tips to care for your eyes when you’re staring at screens all day.

  • Your screen should be a couple feet from your eyes. The top of the screen should be at or just below eye level. If you wear bifocals and get neck pain and headaches when viewing a computer screen, it might be the screen is too high and you are having to tilt your head backwards to view the screen, causing neck strain.
  • Take periodic breaks. Look away from the computer screen or other device at least every 20 minutes. Looking out a window helps relax your eye muscles.
  • Remember to blink frequently, every few seconds, to keep your eyes well lubricated. Apparently, we blink less often when focusing on a screen.
  • Adjust screen lighting to avoid very bright light and lower blue light in the evening using automatic settings when available.
  • Make sure there is background lighting if watching a large screen presentation or television in a darkened room.

Here are some additional reading tips to prevent eye strain:

  • When reading paper materials, make sure there is a good light source behind you.
  • When you read, you tend to stare at the page, drying out your eyes. To combat this, close your eyes for several seconds after completing a page and/or every few minutes when looking at the screen. 
  • If the page or screen appears blurry while you’re reading, it could be sign of your eyes drying out. Blinking will help correct it. Sometimes supplemental artificial tears are needed.
  • Air-conditioned and heated environments are often dry and can exacerbate the process. If you are in a small, closed space, a humidifier might help.
  • If you consistently get headaches and/or doubling of letters after reading 15 minutes or so, you might have convergence insufficiency. An ophthalmologist can diagnosis this and prescribe eye exercises to alleviate this condition.

If you experience eye strain, dry eyes, eye fatigue, headaches or other symptoms, make sure to discuss these with your primary care doctor and get an eye exam. It may be time to get reading glasses or take other corrective measures. If you are exposed to bright light during an eye exam, wait a few minutes before having the vision test done, so that your eyes can readjust. Children who are experiencing eyestrain or headaches with virtual schooling should get their vision evaluated.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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