Between working, watching TV, playing video games, online shopping and scrolling through social media, so much of our day is taken up by looking at some sort of screen. It’s common knowledge that using screens for prolonged periods of time can affect our eyes, but since we rely so heavily on this technology, it can be difficult to minimise how much time we spend staring at it.
So, if you’re struggling to reduce your screen time but you still want to protect your eyes, keep reading to find out what you can do about it.
How to protect eyes from screen time
There are a number of ways you can still use screens without putting your eye health at risk. Check out our three useful tips below.
- Adjust your screen set up
If you’re using a computer or laptop, it’s important to check that your screen set up is just right. Ideally, you should use a high quality screen, such as an LED flat screen offering high resolution. It’s also a good idea to adjust your screen settings to minimise the strain on your eyes. For example, you may want to find a suitable font size, and adjust the brightness to eliminate flicker.
You should also make sure to not sit too far away from or too close to your screen. The optimum distance between your eyes and the screen is around 20 to 40 inches. Try to ensure that your screen is positioned below eye level too, and it should be placed directly in front of you, not off to the side. You can check this by making sure that the top of your screen is in line with your eyes.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your screen is positioned so that it’s as glare-free as possible. If you can, place it in a way that avoids reflections from sunlight and overhead lighting. You should make sure that the room itself is well-lit too – using a bright screen in a dark, poorly lit room can put extra strain on your eyes, leading to headaches and fatigue.
- Use eye drops
If you experience sore, itchy or dry eyes when staring at a screen for a long period of time, you may want to use eye drops. Providing instant, soothing relief, these liquid drops can help keep eyes moist to reduce feelings of discomfort and irritation. There are many different types of eye drops available, some of which have been designed specifically to care for eyes affected by prolonged screen usage.
For example, TheraTears® Screen Eyes Eye Drops work to refresh and hydrate dry, red and irritated eyes for extended screen use. This contact lens friendly formula is preservative-free on the eye to prevent irritation, and the drops contain hyaluronic acid 0.1% to restore moisture. These innovative screen eye protection drops are also formulated with Euphrasia, which supports natural eye whitening.
The good news is, applying eye drops is quick and easy, and you should be able to notice a difference straight away. It’s important to always read the product leaflet to make sure you know how to apply the drops.
- Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks is a must if you spend a lot of time in front of a screen. Stepping away, or even just looking away, from your screen at regular intervals can help stop your eyes from becoming sore throughout the day.
To get you into the habit of doing this, you may want to adopt the 20-20-20 rule. This means looking away from your screen every 20 minutes, for a minimum of 20 seconds, to look at something positioned 20 feet away. For example, you could focus your attention on a window across the room for a brief moment before going back to the screen in front of you.
You may also benefit from taking more substantial breaks for your screen. For instance, if you work in an office or at a desk at home, it might help to get up from your chair and step away from the screen entirely to do something else, whether you speak to a colleague or make a cup of tea.
How to relax eyes after long screen time
After you’ve spent a long time looking at a screen, it’s important to let your eyes rest, relax and recover – and here are three easy ways you can do just that.
- Try out some eye exercises
Staring at a screen for most of the day can leave your eyes feeling strained and fatigued. To relieve this, you could try out some eye exercises. There are many different ways you can exercise your eyes to help them feel better, many of which are quick and easy to do.
For example, ‘eye rolling’ can help release tension in your eye muscles. To do this, simply close your eyelids and roll your eyes in a circular motion. This can help lubricate your eyes and ease strain on the eye muscles.
‘Palming’ is another exercise you can try. Find a comfortable position and start by rubbing your palms together. This should create some heat between your hands. Next, form your hands into cup-like shapes, then place one over each closed eye. You should be able to feel the heat from your palms on your eyes, creating a relaxing, warming effect.
- Do something else
One of the best ways to allow your eyes time to rest and recover after a long period of screen time is to, quite simply, do something else – just make sure it doesn’t involve another type of screen. While it can be tempting to scroll aimlessly through Instagram or TikTok on your phone after a long day of video meetings and sending emails at your laptop, it’s important to give your eyes a good rest from screens entirely. Instead, you could immerse yourself in a book, head out for a walk in the fresh air or even make a start on preparing your dinner.
- Don’t return to the screen right away
In today’s digital age, it can be difficult to avoid screens throughout the day. For example, once you’ve switched off your work laptop, you may want to relax in front of the TV to catch up on your favourite show or turn on your games console for some well deserved ‘me time’. However, you should try not to return to a different type of screen right away. Give yourself, and your eyes, ample time to wind down first. It’s also important to note that ideally, you should avoid using any type of screen one hour before you head to bed.