The 20-20-20 rule is a method that is said to prevent eye strain from looking at digital screens for extended periods of time. We have spoken quite a bit about this ‘rule’ in many previous blogs but we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain in detail how it actually helps.
What Causes Eye Strain?
There are many factors that can affect the strain your eyes are under. Here are just a few examples:
- If you have prolonged time on a single task then your eyes can get tired after continual focus. This applies to both digital and physical tasks.
Sitting too close or too far from a screen.
- If the environment you are in is too bright or dim then your eyes may become tired and strained. A good way to test if a room is not lit properly is if you have to squint to see what you’re doing.
- Finally, if you have existing poor vision or recently were given a new prescription of eyewear then it’s likely that your headaches could be due to your eyes working in a new way.
Headaches can occur when wearing new prescription eyeglasses. Usually, these go away in a day or so as your brain and eyes adjust. It’s important to remember that wearing accurately prescribed glasses are going to be incredibly helpful for your vision in the long run.
Wearing new glasses changes how your eyes function. You essentially have to wait for the muscles to catch up and adapt to the new frames. These headaches are not permanent and will disappear as soon as your eyes have adjusted. However, you should get in contact with your doctor if this is not the case and your headaches don’t dissipate within a week. Or you are showing any of the following symptoms:
- sudden vision changes
- severe eye pain
Normally, however, all that is needed is a slight adjustment to the frame or lens of the glasses to make them more comfortable to use.
What Is The 20-20-20 Rule?
The 20-20-20 rule refers to when you take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away after 20 minutes of screen time. Sounds nice and easy, which it is!
If you’re going to try the 20-20-20 rule then you need to think about how many screens we expose ourselves to. It’s much more time than you might initially think. Every digital screen that you look at is classed as screen time. This includes the TV, phones, laptops, tablets and computer monitors.
Every 20 minutes you spend looking at any of these screens you need to take a 20-second break looking at something 20 feet away. It can be something as little as looking out the window across the street.
Why 20 Seconds?
The reason you need 20 seconds is that that’s how long your eyes take to relax. This prevents your eyes from being focused at a single distance for too long which can cause strain in your eyes.
How To Remind Yourself
There are many ways you can do this. Eventually, it will become a habit and you won’t even have to think about it. However, until that day there are many alternatives. You can set a timer on your phone that will pop up every 20 minutes. There are also free apps such as ‘relax your eyes’ or ‘Donald Korb Blink Training’ that can help. The apps are as easy as clicking start when you begin looking at a screen. The app handles everything else and reminds you.
What The Research Says About The 20-20-20 Rule
There is no research that the screens we spend hours looking at each day are necessarily damaging our eyesight. It can cause an unpleasant feeling of strain and tiredness.
Blinking is a very important action for our eyes. It helps keep our eyes lubricated, prevents irritation as well as tiredness. The frequency at which humans blink is around 15 times a minute. This number is significantly decreased to a half or sometimes a third when we stare at screens.
In a study published by the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers examined computer use and its effects on the eyes of university students in Malaysia. Almost 90 percent of the 795 students had symptoms of CVS after just two continuous hours of computer usage.
Taking frequent breaks to look at faraway objects during screen time significantly lessened their eye strain symptoms. In other words, the 20-20-20 rule works.
Need Any Help?
If you’re starting to find it difficult to look at a digital screen for long periods, then you might want to consider getting a professional examination on your eyes. Getting glasses for use with your computer might help to relax and protect the health of your eyes.
We’re an award-winning local opticians based in Hailsham, East Sussex, so if you’re in the area and want an eye test, or have any questions about the health of your eyes, then please call in and see us!