Today, many Baby Boomers and older adults are spending a lot of time on their screens, whatever the preference–computer, tablet, or phone. This is a great way to stay connected, stay updated, and research topics you’ve always wanted to learn.
But staring at that screen all day can wreak havoc on your eyes, leading to computer vision syndrome–eye strain, watering or dry eyes, and blurred vision. To help avoid this problem and to promote eye health, the American Optometric Association and American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend a simple procedure called the 20-20-20 rule.
This is how it works:
- Every 20 minutes of computer use, look away from your screen
(You can set an alarm or use an app such as ProtectYourVision as a reminder)
- Focus on something 20 feet away
(Look out the window and focus on a tree across the street to relax your eye muscles)
- For 20 seconds
20-20-20 becomes a simple mnemonic (memory aid) to help remind you to protect your eyes.
Other practices to keep in mind while using your computer include: using large text and black print against a white background, blinking your eyes for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, and applying eye drops for dry eyes.
Undeniably, eye problems and eye diseases are more prevalent as we grow older. These changes can weaken vision, leading to falls and accidents. But there are ways to keep our eyes healthy as long as possible. The National Institute on Aging recommends the following to support aging eyes:
- Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors.
- Schedule annual eye exams.
- Quit smoking, which increases the risk of eye diseases.
- Eat nutritious foods that support eye health. These include leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, salmon, walnuts, berries, soy, eggs, and avocados.
- Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce high blood pressure and manage diabetes, both of which can contribute to eye problems.