If you’re anything close to the average American, you spend upward of 11 hours a day staring at a screen! Focusing on reading tiny, illuminated text on your cell phone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer for long periods of time can cause eye strain and discomfort, which is detrimental to your vision.
Most people who work at a computer screen have some symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a term that refers to the types of eye strain and pain that can develop from prolonged screen usage. Some of the most common symptoms of CVS include eye dryness, eye strain, headaches, difficulty focusing, and blurred or double vision.
In honor of Healthy Vision Month, I spoke to Dr. Charissa Lee, Professional Education Director at Johnson & Johnson Vision for potential solutions. Dr. Lee recommends speaking with your eye doctor if you experience any kind of discomfort when working on a computer, but she shared some tips that could help:
Use the 20-20-20 rule
When you’re working on a computer, your eyes often exhaust themselves to keep you focused for a long time. In order to keep them from straining, consider applying the following technique: every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at least 20 feet away. Dr. Lee refers to it as the 20-20 rule, which she says gives your eyes a chance to recover and recoup by letting them shift focus a few times an hour.
Blink, blink and blink
When staring at a screen, you subconsciously blink less because you’re trying to stay focused. “Blinking is crucial to re-moisturizing your eyes with the natural tears and oil being produced by the glands,” says Dr. Lee. Create a habit of blinking as often as you can, like every time you get up to use the restroom or go to a meeting. Blinking is fundamental to maintaining clear, comfortable, healthy and stable vision.
Adjust to the right lighting
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are bothered by light at some point in their day. From harsh environmental lights to bright computer screens, the lights in our day-to-day life can easily damage our eyes with prolonged exposure to them. If possible, adjust the screen brightness of your computer and filter any other blaring indoor office lights. This will help keep you protected while you’re working.
Fill up on leafy greens and fish
Dr. Lee recommends keeping a diet full of omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, and carrots to give your eyes the nutrients they need to stay strong. As she explains, omega-3 fatty acids are found predominantly in nuts, seeds, and oil-heavy fish such as salmon and tuna, and can also be taken as a fish oil supplement. Leafy greens contain cartenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial to the health of your retina. And like your mom always told you, carrots really are good for your eyes as they’re chock full of beta-carotene, which your body uses to make vitamin A, which is crucial for your eye health. So the next time, you’re wondering what to eat for lunch, maybe try a salmon salad?