The eyes are “the window” through which we experience the world: taking in information, and assimilating it by way of brain activity. By design, the eyes have exceptional endurance but they still need sufficient rest periods, especially from digital input. The 20/20/20 Rule, recommended by optometrists, is a way to give our eyes the necessary reprieve from activity and protect them from damage.
The more time spent in front of digital devices, the greater the strain on your eyes. Extensive screen time not only strains the eye muscles and other structural elements of vision, it can also lead to:
- blurry vision
- dry eyes
- neck strain
- sensitivity to both indoor and outdoor light
To reduce these negative effects, many eye physicians suggest using a blue-light and/or a glare filter over your computer screen or wearing glasses designed to minimize blue-light and screen glare. However, these tools do not make it okay to power through more screen activity. Your eyes require a complete rest from visual stimuli and processing. Ideally, this would be walking away from screen work for several minutes, getting some fresh air or closing the eyes. When that’s not possible, the 20/20/20 Rule is an easy way-at home, school, or work-to help protect the eyes from strain caused by too much screen time:
For every 20 minutes spent using a screen, look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds (it takes 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax). There are many apps available to set screen-time breaks or vision breaks so check the Apple and Android stores for a resource that is suitable for you.
Purves, D., et al. “The Actions and Innervation of Extraocular Muscles.” Neuroscience. 2nd Edition, 2001. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10793/
“Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time | Dr Matt Le Roux,” June 15, 2021. https://mattleroux.com/negative-effects-screen-time/