Give Your Eyes a Break: Eyestrain and Prevention

  • Alexander Lourdes Medel ’23

The 20-20-20 rule may seem familiar to all of us. Though it is simple, it can provide some relief to our sore eyes especially during online learning. According to Healthline, this rule asks people that after twenty minutes spent looking at a screen, one should look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds before continuing with their work hence the “20-20-20.” This practice can help alleviate the stress our eyes feel during hour-long Zoom lectures or digital work. Though it is easy to do, we often become preoccupied with our work to the point where we disregard giving our eyes a chance to rest. As a result, we may experience something called eyestrain.

If you have ever felt dry, tired, or sore eyes — accompanied by the likes of blurry vision, headaches, or even pain in your shoulders and neck — then you are probably experiencing eyestrain. Eyestrain, according to the Mayo Clinic, is caused by many things such as looking at digital screens over long periods of time or reading long texts without pause. Other causes include looking at bright light or straining your eyes to focus on something in dim light. These experiences are all too familiar to us. We spend hours on our tablets or computers in Zoom meetings during a regular school day or spend even more time on a screen typing a paper or doing some research. If we are given a reading assignment in a novel or textbook, it is likely that we read through it without a break in the effort to get it finished quickly or on time. While academics is important and crucial in all of our lives, it is essential that we recognize that our own health is also a priority. Our eyes matter in the same way that our academics matter.

Now that we are entering the spring semester virtually, along with the possibility that virtual learning will linger, it is important to take some small, but important, measures to positively treat our eyes the way they should be treated. First, you can apply the 20-20-20 rule. Set up a timer or alarm for yourself to take those breaks or sit by a window during a Zoom session and briefly take in the view. Second, position your device, in relation to you, properly. For example, according to Healthline, your computer should be an arm’s length away from you and it should be level to your eyes or slightly below. Craning your head downwards, which often occurs while looking at your phone, can increase your chances for eyestrain. Thirdly, surround yourself with the correct amount of light. Do not make your computer screen too bright during the day and do not use a device by itself at night. Simply adjust your lighting. All in all, these are some, out of the many, ways you can prevent eyestrain and provide rest for your eyes.

I am positively certain that you are reading this article on a device — like a phone, tablet, or computer — right now. Once you are done, close that device and close your eyes. Use the 20-20-20 rule. Take a walk or look out your window. In essence, I am humbly asking you to give your eyes a break.

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