There is so much information and misinformation regarding digital eye strain across the internet, magazines and television. We previously discussed the relevance of blue light blocking lenses in digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome.
Though patients are constantly looking for resources to help them with the issues that they deal with every day, it’s sometimes tough to convince them that they don’t need to spend money on a tool, rather spend a little bit of time each day taking care of their eye muscles.
As an eye expert, patients and friends ask me how to alleviate eye strain and tired eyes at the end of the day all the time. My answer is always the same: the 20-20-20 rule!
By now, most people are aware of the 20-20-20 rule, since it has been circling the internet and social media within the last year. Though there are a few different variations of the same thing, the concept of resting the eyes is the only fool-proof way to make sure your eyes can keep going after a long day of work. Keeping ocular anatomy in mind, the 20-20-20 rule is the only way to make sure eye muscles get the rest they need in between tasks.
The 20-20-20 rule is simple: For every 20 minutes of near work on the computer, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. I find that I sometimes have to assure my patients that they don't have to really measure an object to be 20 feet away, but rather look out the window, take a quick walk to another room, or just simply look at a wall on the other side of the room if the first two options are not feasible. If patient’s have a hard time remembering, it’s helpful to set an alarm or download an app that will remind them that 20 minutes has passed.
The purpose of this is to educate patients that their eye muscles are working in overdrive every time they’re working on the computer or staring at a screen for long periods of time. Though it’s inevitable now that much of the population has learned to work remotely, educating patients on proper digital hygiene has become more relevant than ever. Having this discussion with every single patient will be beneficial as you will find that every patient spends some level of time on a digital device every day. So if your patient does not work from home or has an active lifestyle, you can still assume that they are dealing with some kind of screen when they come home from work.
So the next time your patient asks for a magic pair of glasses, an anti-reflective coating or an eye drop , reassure them that the best thing that they can be doing is taking frequent breaks. Explaining a simple strategy such as the 20-20-20 rule is helpful because it’s easy enough for patients of all ages to follow and it doesn’t cost anything extra!
~ Dr. Amadian