With the fall semester/term quickly coming to a close, cramming for exams can affect more than bedtime routines (or lack thereof). Sustained hours spent studying and researching can have a significant effect on how your eyes feel, particularly when the work is performed on a computer or other digital device.
Fortunately, visual fatigue doesn’t have to stand between you and your GPA (grades). Here are several strategies that can help ease your discomfort.
Understand Digital Eye Fatigue
First things first: If you are experiencing a sudden change in your vision, have eye pain, or significant redness, make an appointment with your eye care professional right away to identify the cause.
However, if you’ve been spending long hours on schoolwork, and are experiencing symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain, you may have computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye fatigue.
Digital eye fatigue is due, in part, to the reduced blink rate that is common with computer use. Digital device usage has increased substantially in recent years—both in and out of the classroom.
Alleviate Digital Eye Fatigue
Although digital eye fatigue isn’t an emergency, it can affect your performance, so you shouldn’t ignore it. Here are some simple steps you can take:
Follow the 20/20/20 rule: Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something else that is 20 feet (6 meters) away.
Blink: Make a conscious effort to blink more often when using your digital devices.
Get moving: Frequent breaks from working on digital devices can give your eyes a rest. Get up, stretch, and move around.
Improve your position: Your computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level, which is about 4 or 5 inches (10 or 12 cm) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches (50 to 71 cm) from the eyes.
Adjust the lighting: Position your computer screen away from fluorescent lights and consider floor lamps instead of overhead lighting. You can also prevent glare from outdoor light by using curtains.
Adjust display settings: Match the brightness of your screen to the light around you. If your screen looks like a light source, it is too bright. If it looks dull or gray, it is too dark. Text size and contrast make a difference too. Typically, looking at dark letters against a light background is easier on your eyes.
This post originally appeared on All About Vision.