Now that Summer is over, and the nights are coming in earlier, it’s the time of year for many people, especially students, to spend a lot of time in front of bright laptops for long periods. Having a screen intensive day can make the eyes feel irritated and dry. And with so many people now working from home for a good chunk of the week, anyway, we can help avoid irritable and bad habits when using screens is always a good idea.
So how can we help our eyes when we’re screen intensive? Here are just a few cheap and cheerful ways to avoid strain throughout the day.
The 20-20-20 rule
If you wear a smartwatch, you may have it tell you to get up and move around every hour or so. While it’s great to stretch out and feel limber, how can you give your eyes the chance to relax if you need to use a laptop all day long?
To follow the all too easy to remember 20-20-20 rule. All you need to do is:
- Look away from your screen every 20 minutes
- Focus on something that’s roughly 20 feet away (or just anything far away out the window)
- Look at an object or the general view in that distance for 20 seconds
It helps give your eyes the chance to re-adjust for a moment. Now you obviously can’t keep a tab on doing so every 20 minutes without having an alarm, which can get annoying after a while, but as long as you actively think about doing so (even once an hour), your eyes can avoid irritation.
It may sound like a silly thing to suggest, after all, we will naturally blink throughout the day, but those of us looking at a bright screen will get in a bad habit of not blinking as much as we should. Your eyes should be blinking every 10 to 20 seconds and looking at screens can subtly change that rhythm.
If you ever find that your eyes start feeling a bit tired in the middle of the day, blink for short periods.
Getting light blocking glasses without a prescription
A large part of eye strain comes from digital light exposure. While some sites may imply that blue light exposure is damaging to the eye (the research is still relatively new), reducing blue light exposure can help avoid that feeling of tired eyes later in the day.
If you’re someone who spends extended periods in the evening on a laptop at home or takes their phone to bed to browse through before sleeping, get some clear blue light glasses. They’ll help dull down the light, and you don’t even need to have a prescription to wear them. Just think of them as indoor sunglasses, only you won’t look silly wearing them.
Let your laptop figure it out
Imagine that your laptop could figure out exactly how bright it was wherever you are in the world, and adjust your screen brightness accordingly?
Well, it can if you install software like f.lux. It’s a nifty program that automatically adjusts your laptop screen depending on the time of day and where you’re sitting. If you’re someone who is up to the small hours working away, it will know to dull down that blue glow. If you work first thing in the morning, it will attempt to match the brightness with how sunny it is outside, so you’re not squinting at the screen.
Go dark mode as much as possible
Speaking of adjustments, you may have noticed that the latest update for Facebook on desktop added a Night Mode, as they realized that it is slightly better if you’re not staring at a bright white background when on Facebook a lot. I highly recommend turning it on for every app which offers it, although it may involve fiddling around within the settings to find out how.
While your phone may have a night feature that dulls the brightness with a yellow hue, apps like Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and Instagram have bright white backgrounds as a default. Switching to dark mode, even during the day, can take the strain off your eyes as you’re staring at your screen.
Just remember to blink and take breaks!
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