Wellness·3 min read

How To Keep Your Eyes Healthy if You Stare at Screens All Day

Woman looking at a computer
Design: theSkimm | Photo: American Optometric Association
January 30, 2024

It's no secret that screens aren't great for our eyes. In fact, just two hours of screen time a day can take a toll on your vision. Yet, average screen time levels have risen by 20% over the last 10 years, and according to the American Optometric Association’s most recent study, 104 million Americans are exposed to excessive screen time (7+ hours a day). 70% of those 104 million have jobs that require looking at screens. But no matter what you do, there are steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy. 

Symptoms of excessive screen time

Hard truth: Excessive screen time could cost you up to $702 every year. That’s…not cheap. The most common symptoms — collectively known as digital eye strain (DES) — include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and, ya know, actual eye strain. If these symptoms aren’t treated early, they may affect your ability to work or cause further issues in the future. 

Five tips to help you avoid DES and other vision problems

1. Practice the 20-20-20 rule 

This one’s easy: For every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to relax your eye muscles. You should also take a 15-minute break after two hours of continuous screen time. Pro tip: Set a timer on your phone so you don’t forget. 

2. Adjust your computer position

Your computer’s positioning matters. It’s more comfortable for your eyes to view a screen when you’re looking downward, so the AOA recommends angling yours 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (measuring from the center of the screen) and placing it 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes. 

Screen glare is also worth considering. You can minimize glare by adjusting your brightness to match your environment and wiping down your screens regularly. Good angles, clean screens, can’t lose. 

3. Get annual eye exams

That same AOA study found that an estimated 31.8 million people who were exposed to excessive screen time did not see an optometrist in the last year, and more than half of this group reported vision-related symptoms that may be resolved by regular visits. Bottom line: Visiting an AOA optometrist for an annual, in-person comprehensive exam is essential to identifying issues early. The earlier a vision problem is detected, the more effective the treatment will be. And your wallet will appreciate it, too. Because seeing an optometrist annually could save you up to $1,920 each year. Psst…you can find an optometrist in your area and book an appointment riiight here

4. Wear the proper eyewear

And by proper, we mean eyewear prescribed to you by an optometrist. Whether you have glasses specially made for screen time, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or another eye-related condition, it’s important that you wear them regularly. You also want to make sure you’re getting updated prescriptions from your optometrist annually since your vision can change throughout the year. 

5. Blink more

It may sound like strange advice, but blinking often helps keep the front surface of the eye moist and prevents dry eyes. Try working extra blinks into those screen breaks we mentioned earlier. You can also download Blink Land — a mobile app designed to help you develop more eye-friendly habits through a variety of games.


Screens are everywhere, especially if you work on one all day, but there are lots of ways to protect your vision. Interested in learning more? AOA’s latest report is chock-full of insights and healthy eye tips.

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