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Tips to Minimize Visual Strain from Screens


To Our Dear Community Members – Both Near and Far,

During this very difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are facing a significant increase in screen time to accomplish our essential daily tasks. Therefore, we are providing you with the following recommendations that are designed to minimize the negative effects of increased screen use on your vision.

#1 – 20-20-20 Rule

Every 20 minutes look away from your screen and focus for 20 seconds on something that is at least 20 feet away (e.g. out a window).

Do NOT underestimate the power of this simple task. It is literally like hitting “re-set” for your visual input-output system. Your ability to remain visually and mentally focused on the task will increase significantly. The task will take less effort, and is less likely to cause eyestrain.

After three 20-minute segments (1 hour) get up and walk around. Go get a drink of water, talk to your loved ones, look out the window, daydream . . .
Do not check your phone!

After no more than 3 consecutive hours, you must stop screen use and spend at least 30 minutes doing something completely different. Ideally that would involve moving your body outdoors if possible.

Choosing Your Screen

When selecting your device, try to use the largest screen available at the furthest working distance possible. The smaller the screen, and the closer you hold it, the more likely you are to suffer digital eye strain.

In order of preference use your desk-top, lap-top, tablet and, as a last resort, your smart phone.

Positioning Your Screen

Your screen should be placed so as to minimize glare and reflections as much as possible. Windows and lights should be to the side of you and your screen. They should not be in front or behind.

To test for unwanted glare or reflections, turn off your device and look for any reflections in/on the screen. Even a shiny necklace can be a source of glare and discomfort.

Screen Setting/Brightness

We recommend that your screen be switched to “night shift” or a another blue-light limiting mode whenever possible.

Choose a moderate brightness setting that allows you to see relevant details without effort or strain.

Room Lighting

If possible, when on a screen, room lighting should be roughly half of what would be needed to read a book.

If your task involves both screen and hard copy, try using a task light for the hard copy. The hard copy should be at the same distance from your eyes as the screen, if possible, and the task light should be coming in from the back or the side – not from in front.

The Importance of Moving Your Body

Research has shown that moving your large muscles and looking off in the distance while outdoors is the antidote to excessive screen usage. Walking, running, biking and roller skating are fantastic choices.

If for any reason you can’t get outdoors, move your body indoors. Walking up and down stairs, walking around the house, jumping jacks, jogging in place and dancing are just a few possibilities. The many ways to move your body indoors is limited only by your imagination.

For kids, some possibilities are obstacle courses around the house, hide and seek or a mini trampoline (with high enough ceilings of course)

Balance for Your Eyes, Brain and Body

Finally, eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly fortify and provide the best foundation for your eyes, your brain and your body so that they will remain healthy and symptom free.

It is so very important to take care of ourselves and our loved ones during this time.

Please, don’t hesitate to email or call if you have any questions about digital eye strain or any other visual concerns.

Be healthy and safe and don’t forget to move your bodies,

Dr. Ruggiero, Dr. Hannigan, Dr. Clay
And the entire Northampton Vision Specialists Team

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