It’s possible that for many of us the past few COVID-19-frenzied months are something we never thought we’d experience. Suddenly the terms “self-quarantine” and “global pandemic” are used in everyday conversation and a simple cough is enough to send people into a panic.
The government has advised everyone to stay indoors and avoid physical contact with other individuals. With this expectation in place, more eyeballs are glued to phones, TVs and computers than ever before. This fixation, if not addressed, can negatively influence your mental and physical health, as well as the condition of your eyes.
Applying some tips and tricks to promote eye health, like taking screen breaks and choosing eye-healthy foods can save your eyes from unnecessary strain while you’re cooped up at home.
Make an eye-approved grocery list
With nearly every supermarket experiencing temporary shortages in everyday items, finding all the things on your shopping list can become a challenge.
Choosing healthy foods shouldn’t be forfeited, even when a trip to the market becomes tricky. Your diet has a big influence on the condition of your overall well-being, as well as the health of your eyes.
If carrots are out of stock, don’t panic. Rest assured that other eye-friendly grocery items are available that will get the job done.
When you think of “eye-healthy foods,” carrots are likely the first thing that come to mind because they have an abundance of vitamin A. However, sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach also have their fair share of Vitamin A. Zinc makes it possible for your body to absorb more vitamin A, making it the perfect sidekick. Besides hyping up other vitamins, zinc heightens your immune system’s efficiency, which is invaluable during a global pandemic.
Allow your eyes to rest
It’s likely that your eyes are just as stressed as you are right now. When you combine the shortage of natural light that comes with being stuck at home with the influx of screen time, you get eye strain, no matter how young or old you are.
Computer vision syndrome, occurs when the eyes are subjected to prolonged, uninterrupted screen time. Symptoms of digital eye strain are most often temporary, but nonetheless uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Incorporating some well-deserved breaks in your screen viewing can dramatically reduce commonly experienced symptoms, such as blurry vision, dry eyes and headaches.
Many people use the 20-20-20 rule as a way to prevent digital eye strain symptoms. The instructions are simple, yet effective: For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away from your screen and focus on an object located 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Gazing at an item in the distance gives the tiny muscles in the eye a much-needed break — think of it as the cool-down lap after running a mile.
Stepping away from your screen for longer periods of time, in addition to 20-second breaks, is essential for putting your eyes and your mind at ease. If you’ve been in front of a screen for a while, step away to cook a meal or take a walk. It may surprise you how much of a difference five or 10 minutes can make.
What coronavirus has to do with our eyes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially confirmed that the novel coronavirus transmission through the eyes is possible. This is why many health professionals are seen wearing protective equipment that covers their eyes as well as their nose and mouth.
While transmission through eyes is toward the bottom of the list for common spreading methods (close person-to-person contact and inhaling respiratory droplets are at the top), the practice of keeping your hands away from your face is still crucial.
Stay the course
If you’re feeling frustrated, bored or lonely during this time of isolation, know that you aren’t alone. We’re all feeling the effects of being stuck at home, but it’s the only way to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Try to view this downtime as a gift and use it to evaluate and take care of yourself by practicing good, healthy habits. Being kind to your eyes in the face of today’s screen-heavy culture can make them more comfortable now and in the future.
This post originally appeared on All About Vision.