Since so many schools opted out of in-person schooling, E-learning via zoom or other teleconference programs is the new normal. This comes as no surprise as last year’s school year switched over to E-learning in March due to the pandemic. But in this new learning environment, new problems may arise. One major problem that will likely affect both teacher and students is eye strain from too much screen time. So, with that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to go over 3 ways to reduce eye strain.
Where Does Eye Strain Come From
Before we go over remedies for eye strain, I want to discuss why our eyes become strained from screen time. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, screen time doesn’t necessarily damage your eyesight, but can cause strain. So what causes the strain? According to research, humans blink about 15 times a minute, but when infront a screen we tend to reduce our blinking. And when you don’t blink for an extended period of time, eyes dry up, thus the eye strain. So taking this into consideration, you can imagine the strain students and teachers may feel from E-learning.
Typically, a school day lasts about 6-7 hours depending on a variety of factors. As kids get older those hours shift and in college it mainly depends on an individual’s choice. So, with that in mind, imagine an entire school day spent in front of a computer monitor. Well, for a large portion of students, this is a reality and it does not even factor in screen time spent on their phones or other devices.
The average adult spends about seven hours on screens according to Business Insider, which can put a strain on your eyes. Although no studies show long term damage to your eyes from screen time, it can cause other problems. One issue many people face are tired, dry eyes, headaches, and trouble focusing. So what are some solutions to these problems?
Do Blue Light Glasses Work?
One, albeit unproven, way to reduce eye strain from computer screens is purchasing a pair of blue light glasses. The reason I say it is unproven is because there is not enough data to support the effectiveness of blue light glasses. In fact, a study done as recently as January of this year was done by the Texas Medical Center that sought to debunk certain claims about blue light glasses.
Personally, I have been wearing a pair of blue light glasses for about a year and I have felt a difference. Then again, it could just be a placebo effect, meaning by wearing the glasses I feel better even though they may not be affecting me. So, if you find yourself rubbing your eyes from too much screen time, I would recommend buying a cheap pair to try it out. There’s no downside to purchasing a pair and trying them yourself and you might find them helpful
The 20/20/20 Rule
On the other hand, if the team at the Texas Medical Center are correct, then you should follow their advice for reducing eye strain. They recommend people stay an arms length away from the screen, 22-25 inches, and use the 20/20/20 rule. The 20/20/20 rule refers to this: for every 20 mins of screen time, take 20 seconds to stare at something approximately 20 feet away.
The idea is to give your eyes a small break from the screen to allow them to reset and relax. According to healthline, it takes about 20 seconds for the eye to relax, hence the second 20 in 20/20/20. But researchers stress that you don’t need to follow that rule to a T, but instead take frequent breaks from screen time.
Eye Drops And Artificial Tears
Another popular way to reduce eye strain from too much screen time is using eye drops or artificial tears. This is one of the most practical ways to combat eye strain since you can find eye drops and artificial tears at your local retailer. The Mayo Clinic recommends you use eye drops often even if your eyes feel fine, just to keep them lubricated. And since more people will be interacting with screens more often during E-learning, eye drops will come in handy.