As social distancing becomes a normal way of life during the COVID-19 pandemic many individuals are participating in increased screen time while technology becomes the hub for employees, social circles, students, teachers, families, and entire communities to stay connected. This increased screen time for many is an important part of life and staying healthy mentally and emotionally during the global pandemic, so Colorado’s optometrists have tips for you on how to take care of your eyes while staying connected, attending school, and working from home.
Potential Signs That Screen Time is Impacting Your Eyes
- Increased headaches or migraines
- Dry eyes
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Eye strain
Colorado’s Optometrists Offer Tips for Keeping Eyes Healthy During Increased Screen Time:
- Observe the 20-20-20 Rule
Adults and children should take frequent screen breaks by practicing the 20-20-20 rule. When using any screen, every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. To get in the habit of this, set a timer every 20 minutes for a few days as a reminder to use the 20-20-20 exercise.
- Take Blink Breaks
Looking at a screen naturally has users blinking less and that can cause dry eyes, which can also cause a number of issues including blurry vision. When you take your 20-20-20 break be sure to take a few long blinks. This will help hydrate your eyes and reduce any discomfort from reduced blinking.
- Reduce Blue Light
Blue light is linked to computer fatigue and eye strain. Colorado optometrists recommend wearing glasses that filter out this light. If you’re unsure about finding true blue light glasses, you can contact your optometry office for recommendations.
- Buy an Alarm Clock
Blue light suppresses our bodies production of melatonin. This is one of the chemicals that tells our body it is time to go to sleep. Eliminating nighttime phone use in your bedroom tends to nurture better sleep and it eliminates blue light exposure from looking at your phone during the night. It’s recommended that you use an alarm clock in your bedroom and keep your phone in another room or on customized “do not disturb settings” while being placed across the room.
- Establish a Screen Schedule
During this time, we can’t get away from using screens, but it’s important to evaluate if there is any way to reduce screen time. Many families are finding that no screens after 8pm is a great rule to start winding down for bed and reducing stress. Begin looking at ways to reduce mindless social media scrolling and shift some of your entertainment choices to non-screen activities during certain times of the day or week.
- Check Your Vision
If you’re experiencing more headaches, blurry vision or eye discomfort it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. This will ensure that your eyes are equipped with the correct prescription lenses/contacts and that any other vision issues are addressed. Stay away from online eye exams or vision screenings as they are not a reliable tool for the full picture of your eye health. Find a local optometrist here.