Dr. Maloney interviewed on Vogue.com
Dr. Maloney was interviewed by Vogue Magazine about ways to combat eye strain at the computer. Are you following the 20/20/20 Rule?
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Do You Stare at a Computer All Day? Then Read This
by Jenna Rennert
It happens to us all: It’s the end of a long day, and after eight-plus hours of staring at a computer, your eyes are exhausted. You promise yourself you’ll step away from the screen and read a book, but before long, you’re checking Instagram while watching Netflix on the couch. Sound familiar?
As you read this on a screen, there’s a good chance that your eyes haven’t had a break in hours (or days). Americans spend on average 7.4 hours a day reading, watching, and otherwise staring into digital devices. Just how much strain does technology put on our eyes? “A lot,” says Dr. Robert Maloney, MD, MA, director of the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles. “When you look into a screen for any amount of time, you blink less, causing eyes to dry out and feel fatigued very quickly.” And if you’re farsighted, “the eye muscles have to work even harder to focus on something close up,” creating that familiar tired feeling. While this won’t cause any serious or long-term damage to the muscles, too much screen time can also interrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
And while it might not be possible to quit your day job and move into a tree house, there are “tricks to relieve [eyes] from the constant glare,” Maloney says. First, there’s what he calls the “20/20/20 rule”: “Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet away from your computer for 20 seconds and blink. Our eyes relax when we look out into the distance, so it’s important to give the muscles a little break,” he explains. It’s also possible to adjust the color emitted from your screen. “Often, turning down the blue or red light will enable eyes to focus better,” adds Maloney, who points out that it’s possible to test out different light settings in the control center of most devices.
Even the positioning of a computer can cause strain. Maloney recommends sitting up straight with the screen set just below eye level. “If a device sits too low,” he says, “it can create extra tension in the eyes and stiffness in the neck.” There are also eyeglasses specially designed to prevent digital fatigue: Pixel glasses are created with a slight yellow tint to filter out the strong blue light emitted by any digital device.
Now, has it been 20 minutes since you started reading? Look away.