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Eye Health Resources 12 Oct 2023

Love Your Eyes at Work

Follow the 20-20-20 rule and help to prevent eye strain.

Most of us spend a large part of our working day staring at screens. And the amount of time we spend looking at screens during working hours has probably increased since the pandemic, as many face-to-face meetings have been replaced by online calls.

We also spend a lot of our spare time looking at screens, whether relaxing in front of the TV or using our phones or tablets.

With such an increase in daily screen time, doctors from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute want everyone to Love Their Eyes at Work and take a few simple steps to stop something called eye strain from interrupting your day.

What is Eye Strain?

Eye strain is a common condition that can be caused by the intense use of screens or digital devices. It can lead to symptoms such as dry eyes, blurred vision, eye irritation and headaches.

Eyestrain can be painful and an annoyance, and while it isn’t usually serious, it can have a negative impact on your working day.

The good news is that eye strain can be managed by following a few simple steps, but in some cases, may indicate an underlying condition that may need treatment.

Eye Strain and Screens

Looking at a screen for as little as two hours can be enough to trigger the symptoms of eye strain. While the screen itself isn’t to blame, the time you spend focusing on close-up objects is.

Constant focusing and refocusing on a screen, coupled with its low contrast levels, causes your eyes to work harder.

When we look at a screen we also forget to blink. We usually blink around 20 times per minute, but when we are looking at a screen, this can drop to just 3 – 7 times a minute. This means we aren’t lubricating our eyes, and they dry out very quickly.

Love Your Eyes at Work with the 20-20-20 Rule

The simplest, most effective thing you can do to protect your eyes at work is follow the 20-20-20 rule.

This means every 20 minutes, take a break from looking at your screen and look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.

Why 20-20-20?

There is no real science behind the 20 minute rule, but three lots of 20 minute breaks in an hour are easy to schedule and remember.

By looking at something 20 feet away or around 6 meters in metric terms (it doesn’t need to be exact, anything a fair distance away will work), we are giving our eyes a break from their usual focal point.

And 20 seconds is the time it takes for our eyes to fully relax.

Try using the short break to stand up from your desk, or drink some water for extra hydration to help your eyes stay lubricated.

Don’t be tempted to use this time to check your phone though, as this won’t help!

What else can I do?

There are many other things you can do to reduce eye strain and its symptoms at work:

  • Reduce screen time: Try and reduce the amount of time you spend on other devices during your free time.
  • Take regular breaks: If you have to be at a computer all day, try and take a 15 minute break every 2 hours.
  • Sit comfortably: Try and sit in a comfortable position with your back supported – this will help you to avoid straining your eyes when you bend or stretch your neck to see the screen.
  • Reduce glare: Light from bright windows or lamps can reflect on your screen, and cause eye strain.
  • Adjust screen contrast and brightness: Make sure your screen is the same brightness as the room around you – a level of around 60 to 70% is usually most comfortable.
  • Make text bigger: Reading small fonts is a cause of eye strain – always zoom in so you aren’t struggling to read text on the screen.

Follow these tips and you can help to prevent eye strain at work. If you find you are still suffering dry eyes, or any of the other symptoms of eye strain, always talk to your doctor.

Regular eye screening is essential to maintain the health of your eyes. Request an appointment with our experienced ophthalmologists and orthoptists today.

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