Article by: Carly Fauth
Whether your school operates in person, virtually, or a hybrid of the two, education is increasingly virtual. More and more these days, teaching and learning have become virtual endeavors. Technology and virtual tools are useful, but they can cause problems for students and teachers.
Digital Eye Strain can be a concern for many involved in education. Using and looking at digital screens for many hours each day may cause kids and teachers to experience visual problems. Here are nine tips for students and teachers to help reduce Digital Eye Strain throughout the school year.
1. Take Breaks
Giving your eyes a chance to rest from staring at a screen is essential. You shouldn’t look at a digital device for hours on end.
One good rule of thumb for teachers and students is to give yourself a significant break at least every two hours. If you’re on your screen for two consecutive hours, then take a 15-minute break in which you don’t look at any screen. This can be difficult if the school administration dictates your schedule of on-screen time, but do the best you can.
You should also include micro-breaks throughout your day. The 20-20-20 rule is useful: Take a 20-second break from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something that is 20 feet away.
2. Blink Often
This may sound silly or overly simple, but it’s essential to blink frequently to prevent dry eyes while looking at your computer. Be aware of your blinking as you go through your day of virtual teaching or e-learning. Don’t damage your eyes by staring mindlessly at your screen.
3. Wear Blue-Light Filtering Glasses
The Blue Light from computer screens may increase Digital Eye Strain in those who use screens for much of the day.
It’s helpful to wear special lenses to minimize the amount of Blue Light that reaches your eyes, such as Felix Gray’s proprietary lenses with embedded Blue Light filtering material. The highest-energy wavelengths are filtered out for you, helping to combat the uncomfortable eye strain and headaches.
Remember that you can use Felix Gray’s Blue Light blocking prescription, nonprescription, or reading glasses. All teachers and students can help experience less Digital Eye Strain this school year by minimizing their Blue Light exposure.
4. Position Your Computer Screen Properly
The position of your device or screen impacts how much strain your eyes may suffer. It’s recommended to place your monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away.
When determining your device’s angle, place it so the screen’s top is slightly below eye level. Putting it too far below may cause strain to your neck as well as your eyes.
5. Appropriately Light Your Work Environment
When you’re working from a laptop or other digital screen, lighting that’s too bright can make it difficult to see what you’re doing. Keep lights directly above or behind you to a minimum to reduce additional glare on the screen. This goes for both natural light and fluorescent lighting.
You may need to leave overhead lights off when doing schoolwork on a computer. Instead, it may be preferable to use an adjustable lamp resting on your desk. This way, you can aim the light just where it’s needed.
6. Adjust Visual Settings on Your Device
The smaller the text you read, the harder your eyes must work. One way to reduce unnecessary squinting, and often times Digital Eye Strain, is to adjust the text size. Enlarge the print on your screen to make it easier to read and comprehend.
Adjust the brightness setting on your device too. Contrast may also be affecting your eyesight, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to play with the settings until you find what’s most comfortable.
7. Add Anti-Glare Filters
You can find a better balance for your vision by adding anti-glare screen filters. Anti-glare covers can reduce the amount of light reflected off the screen into your eyes.
Another way to help combat Digital Eye Strain caused by screen glare is to use Felix Gray’s Blue Light filtering glasses with an Anti-Reflecting (AR) coat to protect your eyes.
8. Use a Document Holder
Let’s say you’re referring to a textbook or viewing other materials while using your computer. Many of us default to placing these materials on the desk next to our device.
This is not ideal, as it requires you to look back and forth from your book to the device, shifting your head and neck position each time. If your screen is at eye level but your book is at keyboard level, that’s a lot of repositioning.
A document holder enables you to position your materials beside the monitor when you’re referencing them for at least an hour a day. This reduces the number of jarring shifts you need to make when looking back and forth from materials to your screen.
9. Get Regular Eye Exams
Everyone needs regular eye exams to monitor eye health and catch problems before they worsen. The recommended frequency of exams depends on your age and if you have prior eye problems.
Also, pay attention to how your eyes feel, primarily as you utilize digital technology. Be aware of increased eye discomfort, headaches, blurred vision, and other problems that may be caused by screen overload. Your eye doctor may be able to help with digital eye strain and related issues.
Protect Your Vision This School Year
Teaching and learning have become more virtual and technology-based than ever before, but that doesn’t mean your vision has to suffer. By taking these steps to help keep your eyes from digital strain will make your educational experience useful for the long haul.
Lucy Smith taught elementary school for 10 years in Michigan. She is overseeing her children’s virtual learning this year and is using a number of these strategies.