Combating digital eye strain while working from home

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jul 01, 2020

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WTVF) — Several companies are allowing their employees to still work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. But more screen time can lead to an increase in digital eye strain.

"We dramatically reduce our blink rate and that causes a plethora of problems," said Dr. Matthew Colonna. "Headaches are definitely one of them and dry eyes are another big one."

Colonna works at Optometrist Eyecare Specialties of Tennessee in Portland, powered by AEG vision. He says they've been keeping busy as more people are catching up on their eye appointments during the pandemic. He adds a number of people complain about headaches. That's because with more people working from home, there's less of an opportunity to give your eyes a break.

From virtual meetings to online classes, he says extended screen time can make your eyes feel overworked. A good trick to keep your eyes relaxed and moisturized is the 20-20-20 rule.

"You want to look at something 20 feet away, blink about 20 times, for about 20 seconds, and do that about every 20 minutes," Dr. Colonna said.

The set up of your at-home work station plays a role too. For instance, if you're using a laptop it's generally a lot closer to you than a desktop. The brightness of the screen and glare can also strain your eyes.

"Screens are designed to mimic the sun so they're bright and the high contrast can strain your eyes even more," Colonna explained. "Consider turning down the brightness or put drapes over your windows, maybe change the position of your computer."

Even a small gesture like enlarging the words on your screen or wearing blue light blocking glasses can provide relief to your eyes.

If you haven't gotten your eyes checked in a while, consider setting up an appointment. Several people get headaches because they have an uncorrected vision which can strain your eyes even more.