The 20-20-20 Rule: How to Prevent Eye Strain?

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The 20-20-20 Rule: How to Prevent Eye Strain?


What is the 20-20-20 rule?


The 20-20-20 vision rule is believed to be a thumb rule for the good health of your eyes. The 20-20-20 rule for eyes entails taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes while you work on your computer, laptop, tablet, iPad or mobile phone and focus on a fixed object placed 20 feet away. This is an exercise that gives your eyes ample time to refresh and recover from the straining focusing activity over the digital screen.

A majority of opticians recommend and prescribe following the 20-20-20 rule for eyes that often feel tired or fatigued. Tired eyes are caused due to extensive eye focusing activities like working on the computer, consistently using a laptop or mobile phone or other digital devices, long and regular driving, minute detailing work, etc.

Eye strain can be managed and reduced by following the 20-20-20 vision rule, wearing specialized glasses like computer glasses, anti-glare lenses, blue light lenses while working on the digital screen. It is also recommended to take a nutrient-rich diet that specifically includes vitamin A.


How to use the 20-20-20 rule?


The 20-20-20 rule of vision is quite easy to be used as it only requires you to look away from the screen at regular intervals. It is natural to get consumed by work and forget about practising this rule. Hence you need to set reminders, work with sticky notes or alerts that remind you about the same.

The rule originated from California, where an optometrist named Jeffery Anshel wanted to articulate an exercise or rule that helps relax the eye muscles and reduce eye strain.

You can use these steps to follow the 20-20-20 rule for eyes:

  1. Set reminders: Schedule a reminder or alarm for every 20 minutes to remind you of the practice.
  2. Take the help of apps: There are several apps designed to help you with this activity. You can download them and start using them to keep track of your consistency.
  3. Look outside: While you are on your 20 seconds break, try to look outside the window or door rather than within the office. Looking at natural things like a tree or mountain or green area will soothe your eyes and boost mental peace as well. Also focusing on a fixed object 20 feet away is easier done on the outdoors as compared to within your workspace.  
  4. Close your eyes: Another technique of following the 20 20 20 rule is to close your eyes for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes. Since closing eyes is the natural way of relieving the eyes, it is an equally beneficial option.
  5. Blink your eyes regularly: One of the main causes of tired and dry eyes is the fact that there has been an alarming reduction in the number of blinks. If you are someone who gets highly engrossed in the digital activity and forget to blink, you will feel a lot of dryness in your eyes. This is due to the lack of tears in the eyes, which are a natural mechanism of the eye to keep itself lubricated for movements. Regular blinking restores the natural tear film. 

Following these steps will bring a lot of improvement in the condition of your eyes that need rest. Alternately, you can also try getting up from your seat after regular intervals to relax your mind, body, and eyes.


How does the 20-20-20 rule help to reduce eye strain?


Following are the key points on how to prevent eye strain using the 20-20-20 rule:

  1. The rule allows you to take regular breaks from the screen that leads to eye fatigue and tired eyes.
  2. While practising it, you need to look away from your screen for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes and focus on a fixed object that is placed 20 feet away. This short break gives your eyes a chance to rejuvenate and relax.
  3. Taking these frequent breaks allows you to relax your mind along with the eyes.


Other tips to prevent eye strain


Alternately you can try other ways that prevent eye strain. Some of these are:

  1. Wearing glasses: Keeping in mind the increasing use of digital technology, several eye care companies like Essilor have designed specialized glasses to help reduce eye strain. Computer glasses, blue light lenses, progressive lenses are some of those.
  2. Try using eyedrops: General eye drops that help in keeping your eyes lubricated are available over the counter.
  3. Visiting optician: If the problem persists, you can consult your optician for guidance.
  4. Sit away from the screen: Try to place your chair as far away from the screen as comfortably possible.
  5. Blink consciously: Blinking is crucial to maintaining good health of your eyes. If you tend to forget, blink consciously.



What are the symptoms of eye strain?

Most common symptoms of eye strain are:

  1. Dry eyes
  2. Tired eyes
  3. Blurred vision
  4. Headaches
  5. Disturbed sleep
  6. Redness in eyes
  7. Watering of the eyes


What evidence supports the 20-20-20 rule?

Although there has not been any extensive research over the 20-20-20 rule yet, it is highly supported and recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association. The effectiveness of this rule is also supported by a 2013 research on university students. Those who practised the rule had fewer symptoms of eye strain.


How to set a 20-20-20 rule reminder for eyes?

You can make the use of your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other device to set alarms and reminders. Also, there are dedicated apps that enable you to practice this rule as a habit and track your breaks.