How to keep your eyes and your kids' eyes from eye fatigue in a time of immense increased computer screen usage can be challenging. Nowadays, it seems like a significant amount of our daily life is spent in front of computer screens either for work, school or entertainment. Unfortunately, eye fatigue can result in eye irritation (dry eye), headaches, blurred vision, disrupted sleep, and even pain or strain in the neck, shoulders, or back.
Here are three things you can do to avoid eye fatigue:
The 20/20/20 Rule
At Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses we advise our patients that every 20 minutes, they should take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. Since eye fatigue or eye strain is the result of spending too much time focusing on a single task, by looking away more frequently, you allow the little muscle in your eyes to get a break and relax. This can protect the eyes from fatigue and distance blur at the end of the day.
Blue Light Blockers
Computers, tablets, and other mobile devices with screens emit blue light. Blue light blockers can help with eye fatigue, sleep patterns, and potentially protect your eyes long term from the constant computer light reaching the back of your eye. Basically, you protect your eyes in the same way you do when you wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.
The blue light emitted by digital devices can affect sleep patterns because it reduces our ability to produce melatonin, also referred to as the sleep hormone. This is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain, which is sometimes also called our "third eye." Melatonin levels in our blood are higher at night in order to promote sleep and control our circadian rhythm. Lenses with blue light filters can help block the blue light and assist our body in maintaining normal production of melatonin, in addition to reducing eye fatigue/strain and headaches.
Remember to Blink
Remembering to blink is a very simple but effective piece of advice. Whenever we focus, especially when we are using computers, reading, or concentrating, we stare. When we stare we don't blink and often when we do blink, we do a half blink. When our eyelids close all the way down the mechanical force of the eyelids touching helps release oils from the meibomian glands that surround our upper and lower eyelids. The oil keeps tears from evaporating and prevents our eyes from drying out. When we don't blink routinely, these glands start to atrophy causing long-term atrophy to meibomian glands (meibomian gland dysfunction).