During the pandemic, Khadija Shahid (16MPH), a University of Iowa optometrist and assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, has seen many patients with eye concerns caused from spending increased time at home in front of the TV, computer, or cell phone.
"With social distancing policies in place, there are limited recreational activities available outside of the home, and this has increased screen time above and beyond working screens," she says.
Here are Shahid’s tips to avoid common eye problems, such as strain, fatigue, irritation, burning, redness, dry eyes, blurred vision, double vision, and headaches.
For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break that involves looking at least 20 feet away. This allows the eyes to return to a more natural posture.
More screen time often means less blinking, which can lead to dry eye. Artificial tears can alleviate dry, irritated eyes.
Dehydration can cause or worsen dry eye. Regularly drink water while working on the computer.
Blue light exposure may interfere with sleep patterns and could potentially harm retinal cells. Avoid screen time 2-3 hours before bed. Consider blue light blockers and/or apps to limit blue light exposure from screens at night.
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Incorporate movement throughout the day, maintain the same wake and sleep times (even on weekends), and keep work and home spaces separate, if possible.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring in colorful fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats can be found in nuts, seeds, leafy greens, vegetables, fish, and eggs.