Essential Eye Care Practices for Virtual Learners

man in gray hoodie using laptop computer
Photo by Yasmina H on Unsplash

It's undeniable that the shift to online education has brought with it unprecedented convenience and flexibility. As we discussed in our previous post, Virtual Learning Guide, participating in classes from the comfort of your home can save participants time, money, and energy. Thanks to the internet and various new technologies, individuals can now pursue education while working or fulfilling other responsibilities. However, this mode of learning also poses unique challenges to our vision.

Computer screens are integral for taking remote classes, and according to the American Optometric Association, such devices require demanding work of our eyes. As a result, virtual learners may notice eye discomfort and vision problems after prolonged device use. Fortunately, there are strategies you can implement to balance online learning and eye health. Below are a few useful eye-care practices to keep in mind:

Pay Attention to Vision Ergonomics

A visually ergonomic setup enables virtual learners to see the details of a given task easily and accurately while reducing eye discomfort and fatigue. For this, Safety At Work California recommends keeping about 20 to 40 inches of space between the eyes and the screen's surface. The goal is to be able to read text clearly as you sit in a comfortable position. In terms of vertical location, the top of the monitor should be at or slightly below your line of sight. Additionally, try to keep your screen as bright or slightly brighter than the room to prevent digital eye strain. Glare can also make it harder for the eyes to focus on your screen, so make sure that your screen is angled away from direct light.

Undergo Regular Eye Tests

Nielsen data reveals that, on average, American adults spend about 8 hours and 34 minutes on screens per day. For virtual learners, the hours maybe even longer. Given the vision problems that often accompany prolonged screen time, eye tests must be a priority. Take the routine eye exams by Vision Express, these are carried out by trained professionals who give you an eye health screening to detect conditions like dry eye, a common complaint among remote learners. An optician then conducts a vision test to get a better understanding of your sight and measure the quality of your eyesight. Finally, an eye exam helps determine the eye care that suits you best, whether through prescription glasses or contacts. To stay on top of your vision health, experts recommend that adults over the age of 16 get an eye exam every two years.

Take Frequent Breaks

Taking regular breaks from screens is crucial in preventing digital eye strain and fatigue. As we mentioned above, device use requires near work, which can cause eye muscles to get tired. Without breaks, virtual learners may be prone to dry eyes, headaches, and concentration difficulties. This is why medical professionals like Dr. Karan Rajan suggest implementing the 20-20-20 rule to give the eyes a much-needed break. This habit is simple to practice: You just have to look away from your screen every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. To ensure that you make this a habit, you can set an alarm every 20 minutes. Longer 10-minute breaks away from screens should be taken every hour, as well. During this time, take a moment to stretch and walk around to reduce tension in the eyes and muscles.

Maintaining eye health in a virtual learning environment requires proactive and consistent care. By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you can reduce the risk of digital eye strain and other vision-related issues.