Follow the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain

Computer Vision Syndrome strikes when viewing digital screens for extended periods


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  • American Optometric Association: aoa.org




  • American Optometric Association: aoa.org



Keep these tips in sight

Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome have to do with the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.
Location of computer screen — Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
Reference materials — These materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents so you do not need to move your head to look from the document to the screen.
Lighting — Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage.
Anti-glare screens — If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
Seating position — Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while you are typing. Your wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard when typing.
Rest breaks — To prevent eyestrain, try to rest your eyes when using the computer for long periods. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus.
Blinking — To minimize your chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist.
Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome.


The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer, either in the office or working from home. To alleviate digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Computer Vision Syndrome describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of time spent looking at digital screens.

The most common symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. They may be caused by poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, and uncorrected vision problems.

Solutions vary. But Computer Vision Syndrome can usually be alleviated by obtaining regular eye care and making changes in how you view the screen.

In some cases, people who do not need eyeglasses for other daily activities may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for computer use. In addition, eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Special lens designs, lens powers, or lens tints or coatings may help.

Some computer users experience problems with eye focusing or eye coordination that can't be adequately corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. A program of exercises for the eye, called vision therapy, may be needed to treat these problems. Vision therapy trains the eyes and brain to work together more effectively.

For more tips on staving off Computer Vision Syndrome, please see sidebar.

Source: American Optometric Association: aoa.org





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