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The 20-20-20 Rule as an Eye Exercise to Keep a Better Vision

Do you experience eye discomfort and vision problems when looking at digital screens for more extended periods? You indeed are not the only one, since screen time is a big issue these days. With almost everyone using computers, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets for work or school, you probably spend an extended number of hours on your screens daily. The next thing you know, you are experiencing eye strain. 

The 20-20-20 rule is a straightforward eye exercise to give remedy to eye strains. It is not as complicated as you imagine. Keep reading to know how to do it. 

What is the 20-20-20 rule?

A well-known optometrist Dr. Jeffrey Anshel came up with the 20-20-20 rule idea sometime in 1991. During that time, he was conducting lectures in the corporate world on relieving eye stress and writing his book titled ‘Visual Ergonomics in the Workplace.” After hearing several vision concerns from his patients, he discovered that most used laptops, computers, and mobile phones for extended hours. 

He realized the need for corporate workers to have breaks without compromising too much time off from their work. Hence the 20-20-20 rule. 

How does the 20-20-20 rule work?

You might have heard some helpful tips from your eye doctor during your consultation, or you have come across a colleague mentioning to you about the 20-20-20 rule. Either way, this eye exercise is very doable anywhere. Every 20 minutes of focusing on the screen, you need to look away at an object 20 feet away from you in 20 seconds. 

How can you tell if the object is 20 feet away?

It does not have to be exactly 20 feet away for you to get the result from the 20-20-20 rule, unless, of course, if you bring with you a tape measure to check the distance. The goal here is to focus on objects or anything that seems far away. 

If your workplace is in a big city, you can look away at some buildings across from your office or look out a window to check on a park nearby. Suppose you are working in a smaller space; it will not hurt you to spend some minutes walking outdoors and exploring the neighborhood with your eyes. The key here is to rest your eyes by giving an alternative view rather than just the computer screen. 

Is 20 seconds enough?

It will take about 20 seconds for your eyes to settle and relax. 

For Dr. Anshel, the basis for the 20-20-20 rule comes from successive research and studies showing the benefits of shorter and more frequent breaks for work-related muscles and nerve disorders. 

And while resting your eyes and taking a quick break from working, you can include additional exercise to prevent body strains as well. You can grab water to keep you hydrated, prepare some tea to keep you more relaxed. 

Does research support this eye exercise?

According to the American Academy Of Ophthalmology, digital-related eye strains affect people of all ages, not just corporate workers. After too much exposure to digital screens, you may notice that you experience blurred vision, and your eyes feel tired. 

However, more prolonged eye exposure to digital devices will not necessarily damage your vision. You will only experience uncomfortable effects from focusing on your screen for extended hours. 

The 20-20-20 effectively reduces stress on the eyes caused by looking at digital devices longer than expected. While eye doctors and specialists find the 20-20-20 rule the best defense for eye strains, studies explain that any break from continuous computer work is beneficial. Since eye strain can affect anyone of all ages, parents and guardians must closely monitor children when using digital devices. This is because kids do not usually notice eye strain as much as adults do. 

Final thoughts

While you can always find this 20-20-20 rule beneficial, it is also essential to seek professional eye consultation. The exercise will remedy the strain and stress you feel in your eyes, but you never know how your eyes are doing with all the computer work you have to do every day. As specialists suggest, you need to visit an eye doctor every one to two years. 

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