FARGO - Ours is a society of screens.
We spend hours at our computers at work, hours at our computers at home, and hours on our phones and tablets in between.
All of that screen-staring can cause a host of problems that come with eye strain:
• Dry or watery eyes.
• Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes.
• Blurred or double vision.
• Increased sensitivity to light.
• Difficulty focusing.
• Sore neck or back.
• Shoulder pain.
The good news is there are simple ways to reduce the effects of computer-induced eye strain.
Here are five:
1. Adjust your settings. Increase the light in the room and keep your monitor about 20 to 28 inches away and a little lower than eye level.
2. Get a computer prescription. Dr. Steven Agnes of Family Eye Clinic in north Fargo recommends a computer prescription to help reduce eye strain.
"Sometimes you can get just a little bit of extra power for the computer," the neuro-developmental optometrist says.
3. Don't forget to blink. Stick a Post-It on top of your monitor reminding you to blink. Agnes says it may a little silly, but it works.
"What happens is you're on the computer and you sit there with your eyes wide open because you're thinking and you forget to blink," he says.
And if you're a contact lens wearer, keep a bottle of rewetting drops nearby.
4. Follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
When you're at your computer focusing on your work, you get stressed out and your body starts to go into stress mode, Agnes says.
"Following the 20/20/20 rule helps break that pattern. It'll make a difference," he says.
5. Try "palming." When you need a break, close your eyes and gently rest the heels of your hands on your cheekbones, covering your eyes with your palms.
Visualize blackness and breathe slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590