The 20/20/20 Rule Can Save Your Eyes from Screen Strain

The 20/20/20 Rule Can Save Your Eyes from Screen Strain

Taryn Williford
Aug 10, 2010

My number is 10. That's the rough estimate of how many hours I'll spend staring at a screen on a normal day. That includes 2 hours of on-and-off TV-watching and internet-browsing at home, plus two 4-hour blocks of non-stop screen gazing at work. The problem isn't the total hours, though. It's the consecutive hours. Staring at a screen non-stop can take a toll on your eyes. Staring today, we're trying to implement the 20/20/20 rule.

After doing a bit of research on how to reduce computer-related eye strain, we stumbled upon this tip from Discovery's Planet Green:

One good idea is to follow the 20/20/20 rule: every twenty minutes, look at something at least twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds.

Easy to do and easy to remember, that's our kind of tip!

Here's our breakdown plan for today:

  • Every 20 minutes... We're going to install Dejal Time Out on our MacBook Pro. It's free! Plus it lets you set "micro" and "normal" breaks. We'll use micro breaks for our 20/20/20 rule and normal breaks to get up and stretch. For Windows, check out Workrave (Also free!).
  • ...look at something at least 20 feet away... We're not great at measuring distance, so we needed a frame of reference for this step. From our desk, we've picked a focus point 7 paces away (we've guessed that our stride is about 3 feet long, from right step to right step). You can also estimate that 20 feet is about the length of a parking spot.
  • ...for at least 20 seconds. We're going old-school on this and counting in our heads. English, Spanish, French. Whatever comes to mind.

Via Discovery's Planet Green

(Images: What's Your Favorite Home Office Desk?, Flickr user PPDigital, Wikimedia Commons, Upstart Crow Literary.)

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