How to Avoid Eyestrain and Dry Eyes

How to Avoid Eyestrain and Dry Eyes When Staring at a Screen All Day

*By Optometrist and Dry Eye Clinician (and former Monash student) Dr Leigh Plowman

Do you stare at a screen all day?

When you’re trying to apply yourself for study, screen time is important to help you succeed.

You may be using assistive devices, electronic text or software to make seeing easier.

You may even be spending some of your recreation time looking at a screen.

Increased screen time can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome. This may cause symptoms like:

  • Tired eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Dry Eyes
  • Watery Eyes
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Light sensitivity

When you stare at a screen, your eyes have to do three things.

They have to focus or adjust to what you’re looking at. Like a camera on your smartphone.

Secondly, both eyes need to point at the same thing smoothly and comfortably.

Thirdly, your eyes need to keep an even layer of tears across them.

The longer we stare at a screen, the more potential strain on each of these parts of our eyesight.

Whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet, your eyes tend to blink less often and less fully. This may be because you don’t want to miss a detail in what you’re looking at. Your brain subconsciously tells you not to blink.

Studying and screen time go together. But what if you could reduce screen time even while studying all day?

9 Tips to Avoid Eyestrain and Dry Eyes

  • Put your most addictive devices in another room

When you’re studying, put your phone on a bench or desk in another room. Or put it in a drawer that’s a few metres away from you. Separate your working space from your sleeping space, if possible.

  • Add a simple blink app on your laptop

Eyeblink is a simple app that you can put on your laptop or desktop. It works for Mac or Windows. It’s like a blink coach for your laptop. It monitors your blinking. The app reminds you to have regular breaks, or do blinking exercises. I use it myself and love it for writing articles.

  • Use more printed material

Studies show that our blink rate improves when reading printed material, compared to staring at a screen. Be environmentally friendly. Print on both sides of paper. Use recycled paper where possible. Give your eyes a break from staring at a screen. Read from a paper copy instead.

  • Switch to more comfortable contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, screen time can make them feel uncomfortable or gritty. Your eyes can appear blurry or filmy. Look for contact lenses that have the best built-in moisture. Talk to your optometrist about daily disposable lenses. If you need special contact lenses, these can also be tailored to staying moist and comfortable.

  • Don’t use screen time as a reward

Looking for a mini-reward? Indulge in a one-minute mindfulness break. One example is a smartwatch apps called ‘Breathe’. After you come back to your task, you’ll feel great and come back to your task refreshed.

For bigger rewards, avoid using Youtube or Netflix as a reward. Put on your favourite music. Go for a walk, ride or run. Buy yourself a coffee at your favourite café.

  • Boost your non- screen time activities

Love getting a mental boost from exercise? Book exercise three times per week. You may find that exercise in the morning or afternoon is more energising for you. You’ll benefit mentally, physically and your eyes will feel better too.

  • Define roles for your device

Do you rely on your laptop for study? Minimise activities on your device that are leisure related. Keep those activities for a separate device. Use your main device for purposeful, interactive study uses. Avoid passive scrolling or incidental chores.

  • Track your smartphone usage

Your smartphone can help you to track your usage of your phone. It’s easy to setup. You can view your daily or weekly statistics. See which apps you spend the most time in.

  • Book an eye test

Ever had an eye test? Are you due to get your eyes checked? Your Optometrist looks in-depth at your eyes. They assess how well your eyes to focus and work together. If it’s been more than one year, you might want to consider making an appointment.

If you’re looking to apply yourself in your study, these tips can help you to avoid eyestrain or dry eyes.

Add the easiest tip first. Then add more tips to help you to build momentum.

For more information about Monash Disability Support Services, including assistive technologies, visit this link .

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