We’re all spending more time on our screens, and the toll on our mental state is growing. Endlessly scrolling through news feeds not only strains our eyes, but leaves us foggy and achy. Here, learn how to restore your energy and avoid screen fatigue — without giving up your devices!
Why does screen fatigue happen?
With everything we have on our plates, it’s easy to dismiss dry, scratchy eyes as a minor hassle, but they can trigger a cascade of health challenges, says Yuna Rapoport, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.
“Most women don’t think their eyestrain is a problem, but it can lead to overall fatigue and headaches, as well as pain in the neck, shoulders and back,” she says.
What’s the main driver behind this surge in eyestrain? Our use of screens, including computers, tablets and TVs, has increased by 60 percent since the start of the pandemic, leaving 89 percent of us battling digital eyestrain and screen fatigue.
Fortunately, there are easy ways to improve eye health, assures Dr. Rapoport. Read on for daily tweaks proven to protect your peepers, end aches and boost your energy.
While binge-watching, gaze at another spot for 20 seconds.
The easy fix: For every 20 minutes of TV-watching, gaze at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, advises ophthalmologist Gary H. Cassel, MD, author of The Eye Book (Buy from Amazon, $22.10).
“While near and medium-distance viewing can induce eye fatigue by forcing your eye muscles to converge, focusing on a distant target relaxes them, much like stretching relaxes your muscles after a workout,” he says.
This simple move is enough to double your blink rate, cleansing eyes of irritants and decreasing energy-draining eyestrain.
Playing games on your phone? Slip on blue light glasses.
Taking a few minutes to play Wordle is shown to dial down stress levels, but if you occasionally spend more than 60 minutes focused on a smartphone or tablet — as many of us do — reducing harsh light with a pair of blue light glasses could cut your eye weariness.
Blue light from our electronics can cause eye strain, headaches, and fatigue if your eyes absorb the light waves for long periods of time. Gentle blue light lenses (which can include a prescription or no prescription) filter out these light waves from our electronics devices.
Before computer work, dust and angle your screen.
Next time you dust your knickknacks, give your computer screen a thorough wipe as well. “Keeping screens clean minimizes glare, reducing eyestrain,” says optometrist Marc Grossman, OD, author of Natural Eye Care (Buy from Amazon, $39.95).
Also smart? “Angle the screen so no sunlight or indoor light is reflecting into your eyes,” he adds. “You’ll know you have the angle right when you’re no longer seeing your own reflection.”
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.