Extended screen time has become the new normal with Co-Vid.
The effects of screen stress can add up over time, regardless of whether you’re participating zoom meeting marathons or up to your eyebrows in spread sheets or emails.
You may notice things become blurry when you look away from the screen. Or you may find yourself seeking relief from more headaches than you remember. Eyes seems dryer and itchier than normal, while you notice aches in your neck or shoulders.
The American Optometric Association has come up with a name for this type of eye strain. Computer Vision Syndrome—eye strain from too much digital use. It has replaced Carpal Tunnel as the main work related injury caused by a device.
To help relieve this, they have developed the 20/20/20 rule:
Every twenty minutes take a twenty second break and look at something twenty feet away.
So, set your timer and look away.
Yoga gives some great eye exercises that are easy to incorporate in those twenty minute breaks.
At the 20 minute break, you could look
- Up and down
- right and left,
- Down at right and left diagonals
- Make eye circles in each direction
- Look at peripherally and at your nose
You should do each of these exercise to a slow count. Move the eyeball to it’s limit of it’s range of motion. Move the eye to a slow count of 3-5. And repeat the exercise 3-5 times.
Up and down. to a slow count of three, move your eyes to look up, as if trying to look at your forehead. Then count three as you move your eyes to look down, as if trying to look at your belly button. Repeat this 3 – 5 times.
Right and left. Again, to a slow count of three look to the extreme right, and then slowly to the extremely left. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Right and left downward diagonals. Move your eyes as to look at the shoulder without moving your head. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Eye Circles. Starting at the top (12 o’clock), move your eyes clockwise around, pausing at what would be 3 o’clock (far right), at 6 o’clock (straight down), 9 o’clock (far left) and back to 12 o’clock (looking up).
Blue Filter Lenses
Something else to consider is to use glasses that filter blue light.
While natural blue light is great—it keeps us awake and alert during the day. The blue light that computer screens emit may be having a negative impact on sleep by affecting our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is how our body responds to environmental light to know when to wake and when to sleep.
Excessive screen time, especially after the sun goes down, can impact the quality of sleep we get. Using glasses that filter the blue light from computer screens is slowly gaining popularity.
There isn’t a lot of research to support this at the moment, so the American Association of Ophthalmologists doesn’t officially recommend them. However, if you find that you are having a hard time falling asleep after a long day of screen time, this is something to consider. There is anecdotal evidence that the glasses help with Computer Vision Syndrome as well.
A small 2017 study from the University of Houston concluded that “the use of short wavelength‐blocking glasses at night increased subjectively measured sleep quality and objectively measured melatonin levels and sleep duration. . .”
That can be very good news for people struggling to sleep.
There are blue filter glasses in every price range.
So remember to set your timer and look away both with blue filter glasses and without. Your eyes will thank you.