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Optimal Eye Care – Tips on Distances, Angles and More for Eye Strain Relief

Eye strain is a condition characterized by symptoms like fatigue, soreness in or around the eyes, blurred or occasional double vision, dryness, and headaches. Eye strain can be caused by activities that involve visual tasks and focusing on a specific item from a short distance for a long time. So, reading a book and writing can lead to eye strain. The most common reason for it is the use of digital devices such as computer monitors, TVs, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, etc.

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Technically, the use of the different screens is not necessarily harmful to your eyes in the sense that they do not injure your eyes directly or cause any eye diseases or conditions (such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness, etc.). However, those devices still have a negative impact on your eyes as they put a strain on them, making them work harder, focus more and thus with time they can cause problems. Digital eye strain is often overlooked, but when experienced too often it can be detrimental.

The adverse effects of the devices do not only originate from the short distance, focus, and angle of the glance but also from the blue-light emitted from them. Blue light is the one called High-energy visible light (or HEV light). Digital devices emit only a fraction from the amount of HEV light emitted from the sun for example, but the amount of time people spend staring at them, and the proximity to the user’s eyes raises concerns about the blue light long-term effects on the eye health. Too much exposure to blue light damages light-sensitive cells in the retina and increases the risk of macular degeneration.

Here are our tips for eye comfort and avoiding eye strain:

Keep the right distance!

This applies to reading a book and using screens such as a monitor, TV, tablet, etc.

  • When using computer screens, have the following recommendations in mind:
    Position the monitor no closer than 20 inches (51 cm, 1,6 feet) from your eyes. A good approach is to use an arm’s length distance. The larger your screen, the bigger the distance from your eyes, you will want. Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen. Also,  try to eliminate glare from windows and ceiling lights towards your screen.
  • Here are some rules on how to position the TV at home:
    Eye care professionals recommend sitting approximately eight to ten feet away from the TV screen. The general rule of thumb is to sit between 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal screen measurement away from the screen with about a 30-degree viewing angle. Another thing to consider is the resolution of the TV. The general rule is the higher the resolution, the closer you can sit before you notice pixelization in an image. For example, if your television is 32 inches wide, the optimal viewing distance is 80 inches or about 6.6 feet or 2m.
  • Use the “Harmon Distance” when reading a book, writing and doing other close visual work. The distance between the eyes and the task is the distance between the elbow and the middle knuckle. (Dr. Darrell Boyd Harmon’s “Harmon Distance.)

Take breaks!

Rest your eyes periodically. Focus on an object 20+ feet (240 inches or 6 m) away. Read a book no longer than 20 minutes without looking up towards a distant object, letting it come into focus. Even when watching TV, you should look away at different objects and refocus your glance.

Follow the 20/20/20 Rule when using a digital device.

Every 20 minutes, shift your gaze to look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Choose the right eyewear.

There are various types of protective eyewear you can choose from. Also, check with an eye care professional to see whether you need a specific kind of eyewear for reading and computer use, or in case you have an eye condition (like astigmatism for example or anything else). If you usually use contact lenses, it is advisable to use glasses for computer work, as with contacts, the eyes get dry and tired faster.

Blink more often and use proper lighting.

Some other tips:

  • Adjust your computer display/monitor settings – brightness, contrast, text size, resolution and keep your screen clean.
  • Tilt reading material up about 20 degrees.
  • Sit upright while reading, computing, or watching television
  • Spend time outdoors and focus at different distances.

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