Experts offer tips for taking care of your eyes while working from home

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Staring at screens can lead to uncomfortable side effects

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many companies to let employees work from home for an extended, or even indefinite, length of time. Now, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is urging consumers who are still working from home to take care of their eyes. 

Long stretches of time spent staring at a screen can cause digital eye strain because blinking can happen less often. Symptoms of digital eye strain include blurry vision, headaches, and tired, dry eyes, according to the AAO. 

"As we've all experienced, staring at a screen for too long can cause some uncomfortable symptoms. But there are some simple changes you can make to ease the discomfort," Dr. Dianna Seldomridge, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said in a news release. "The good news is that looking at a computer, tablet or smartphone for long periods of time will not cause permanent damage.”

Tips for taking care of your eyes 

Here are the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s tips for taking care of your eyes when you’re regularly spending long periods of time looking at a screen: 

  • Adjust your environment. Sit about two feet away from your computer screen to reduce eyestrain. Position the screen so that your eyes are looking slightly downward, not straight ahead or up. Adjust the screen brightness and contrast until it feels comfortable, and consider using a larger font if you’re working hard to see letters. 

  • Take regular eye breaks. Seldomridge advises following the “20-20-20” rule, by looking 20 feet away from the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can close your eyes for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. 

  • Use artificial tears. Because staring at screens reduces blinking and increases dryness, the use of eye drops ("artificial tears") can help keep your eyes moist and alleviate dry eye discomfort. Seldomridge said a humidifier can also help add moisture to the air and help prevent eye dryness. 

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