How to Reduce Eye Strain According to an Oculoplastic Surgeon

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For most of us, stay-at-home orders have brought about an influx in screen time. Whether it’s staring at our work laptops for eight hours with little interruption, checking in on social media more frequently or watching our favorite television shows at night, we’re glued to our screens now more than ever. 

If your eyes feel tired, almost sore, at the end of the day, you’re not alone. New York oculoplastic surgeon Irene Gladstein, MD calls out prolonged screen time or driving, improperly selected eyeglass prescriptions, fatigue or lack of sleep as main causes of eye strain. Here, Dr. Gladstein offers her top tips on how to curb screen-related eye fatigue.

Rethink Your Lighting
No, we’re not talking about another ring light. In order to reduce eye strain, Dr. Gladstein recommends maximizing your lighting and adjusting your computer screen settings to decrease any glare. 

If you find your office lighting to be way too bright—harsh fluorescent lighting is a common culprit of eye strain—consider switching to floor lamps with softer lighting. Or, if your eyes are particularly sensitive to glare, anti-glare screens can be purchased to install onto your computer screen. 

Take Five
According to Dr. Gladstein, taking frequent eye breaks will help keep eyes from straining. Strapped for time? An eye break doesn’t have to require getting up from your desk. Consider the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Stay Hydrated
Like our skin, our eyes require proper hydration to curb irritation and dryness. “Artificial tears and space humidifiers help to decrease [eye] dryness,” says Dr. Gladstein. For a quick—and natural way—to boost hydration, Dr. Gladstein suggests reminding yourself to blink more often.

According to studies, we tend to blink less often—about two thirds less—when staring at a screen. And when we do blink, they tend to be partial lid-closures. Being intentional about fully blinking throughout the day will increase natural lubrication to the eyes and reduce strain.

Set a Timer
This one might seem obvious, but limiting screen time will play a huge role in the immediate and long-term health of your eyes. While putting a shorter cap on your work day is likely unrealistic, consider setting a time limit on your smartphone, which can alert you when you’ve hit your selected time limit for certain app categories, such as email or social media.

Opt for Eyewear 
Dr. Gladstein contends that appropriate eyewear can work wonders in reducing eye strain. “You may also want to consider a computer-specific glass prescription,” she adds, noting that this is separate from blue light–blocking glasses. 

“Blue light glasses are relatively new so there’s not a lot of research on the subject,” she adds. “The FDA doesn’t regulate the eyewear because it’s not marketed as a medical device. The American Academy of Ophthalmology currently does not endorse blue glasses to treat eye strain, yet some limited evidence seems to support blue-glass use.” 

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