TT: Follow the 20-20-20 Rule to Alleviate Eyestrain

Young woman working at a laptop while holding a cup of coffee
Woman working at her laptop (Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay)

If you’ve worked in an office in the past two decades, you’ve probably heard or read by now a few words of advice from occupational medicine specialists, among them the 20-20-20 Rule meant to prevent eyestrain (and associated symptoms, such as headaches). But if somehow this rule escaped your attention, here it is in Today’s Tip: every 20 minutes, you should take your gaze off your computer screen and look at an object or more 20 feet away (or farther) for 20 seconds.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health practitioner, and no part of This Blog, or the websites and products I mention and link to on This Blog, is intended as professional medical or health advice, and should not be considered as such. Here are my Full Terms and Conditions.

Orthopedists and various other doctors in related specialties might add that it would do you good to also get up at least every 40 minutes, as one did recently to a friend who went in for some physical therapy. I have a herniated back myself and I can say that sometimes 40 minutes is too long for me. I can last 40 minutes, but I feel better if I can get up again after only 25 minutes, for instance.

I should also observe the 20-20-20 Rule more than I do. I don’t get dry or itchy eyes but sometimes in the evenings I notice my eyes are tired as I try to read on my Kindle. Also, my eyesight could be better. It has, in fact, gotten worse quicker since the pandemic. Apparently there just might be some experimental remedies for that, but so far I’m waiting for a friend to try out one of them before I spend good money on it.

One of the reasons our eyes get strained while looking at screens is the latter’s brightness (I always tone it down on my devices) along with the fact that we actually blink much less when looking at screens, often less than a half we usually do.

Among the symptoms of eyestrain/ocular fatigue (asthenopia), or computer vision syndrome, as it’s also sometimes called, are not only dry or irritated eyes, but also itchy, watery eyes, blurred vision, increased light sensitivity (photophobia), and headaches, among others.

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, and even if you haven’t, you could try caring more for your eyes by taking regular breaks and looking into the distance for a short while every 20 minutes or so.

If you’re wondering about the origin of this 20-20-20 Rule, as I was, here’s the scoop: according to Optometry Times, the 20-20-20 Rule was the creation of Jeffrey Anshel, OD, who came up with it around 1991 while honing in on the idea of the health benefits of breaks not only for one’s vision, but also for one’s strained body. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Anshel, the Rule won’t stave off the development of myopia—although I have to say, from personal experience, that a good friend of mine who follows and extends this rule, getting up and walking to her balcony to look into the distance for as long as five minutes sometimes, has had great results with her eyesight, succeeding in warding off development of her myopia for years. I can’t say that it happened because of this rule, but I’m encouraged to follow her example as much as I can.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Today’s Tip. If you found it useful in anyway, please share/pin it! Thank you!

To a happier, healthier life,


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