Diseases and Conditions , , , , , , ,

I Love College, But Eyes Don’t

By: Shauna Ayres MPH: Health Behavior candidate 2017

Do you find yourself rubbing your eyes for relief in order to get through those last few pages of a journal article? The typical college student spends many hours each day reading and or staring at a screen. This is referred to as “near work” or activities that require your eyes to focus on text, pictures, or objects about arm’s length or closer. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, humans normally blink about 15 times per minute, but when engaging in near work, the number of blinks reduces to 5-8 times per minute which often results in eye strain. Eye strain is characterized by red, dry, and tired eyes, blurry or watery vision, headaches, and/or fatigue. There are a number of eye ergonomic tricks you can do to reduce the severity of eye strain when you can’t reduce the number of articles you have to read or assignments you have to complete.

  1. Sit about an arm’s length from your laptop or computer screen and position it so you are looking slightly downward.
  2. Glass screens cause glare. Try to reduce glare by using a matte screen filter.
  3. Take a break and practice the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Use eye drops when you feel your eyes are dry.
  5. Adjust the room lighting so that your screen and surrounding light are of equal brightness.
  6. Increase the contrast on your screen.
  7. If you wear contacts a lot, consider wearing your glasses more, never sleep in your contacts, and always clean them properly.

If you experience eye strain persistently, you should see an eye doctor for an eye exam and professional advice. If you wear glasses, contacts, or have any history of eye problems you should see an eye doctor once a year. If you don’t have any history of eye problems or troublesome symptoms, you should see an eye doctor every two years. Eyes are a very important organ and their health is often taken for granted until something goes wrong. So stop reading this and practice the 20-20-20 rule now.

For more information about eye health go to http://www.aoa.org/.