You’ve probably heard of the 20-20-20 rule, but when was the last time you actually followed it? Our eye health is just as important as the health and wellbeing of the rest of our body, yet many of us take it and clear sight for granted. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to keep our eyes and eyesight in tip-top condition, and one of these is to make sure that we follow the 20-20-20 rule.
Here’s what you need to know about why the 20-20-20 rule is so important for eye health.
Just in case you haven’t yet come across it, the 20-20-20 rule is a recommendation made by eye doctors for avoiding a condition known as digital eye strain. It was first designed by a Californian optometrist, Jeffrey Anshel, to be used as an easy marker for taking breaks from close-up work. The rule states that for every 20 minutes spent using a digital device, users should look away for at least 20 seconds and focus on something that is at least 20 feet away. The same rule can also be applied to periods of concentration on non-digital tasks, such as reading, sewing, or anything else that requires close-up attention.
The reason for doing this is that looking at something further away from you gives your eyes and the muscles surrounding them a chance to relax. The lens of your eye will slightly change shape if it refocuses, and this new positioning helps it to stay flexible and comfortable. If you won’t want to look at something further away, you could close your eyes instead as this will have a similar effect. The aim is to relax the eye muscles so that they are not holding tension for prolonged periods.
Digital eyestrain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is the name used to describe a variety of eye and vision-related symptoms that occur as a result of prolonged use of digital devices, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
The number of cases of digital eyestrain has increased steadily over the last decade, but 2020 has seen the biggest rise so far., thought largely to be due to the number of people who have suddenly had to start working from home this year.
Some of the core symptoms associated with digital eyestrain include:
Neck and shoulder pain
Sensitivity to light
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we strongly advise that you speak to your eye doctor to have an assessment.
While the 20-20-20 rule is cited as the best way to avoid digital eyestrain, there are also some other things that you can do to minimize the likelihood of experiencing this condition. These include:
Remembering to blink regularly, as this encourages tear film to spread across the surface of your eyes.
Use artificial tears to keep your eyes hydrated.
Reduce screen glare by positioning yourself so that you aren’t sat with your back to a light source or consider using an anti-glare screen.
Reduce the brightness on your screen.
Go for regular eye exams. Poor eyesight can be a major cause of eyestrain but attending regular appointments with your eye doctor will give them the opportunity to closely monitor your vision as well as the health and condition of your eyes.
If you’d like more information about the 20-20-20 rule or further tips on how to prevent digital eyestrain, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated eyecare team.