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8 easy ways to reduce screen fatigue

With our average exposure to screens reaching in excess of six hours per day, we’re on a highway of digitally-induced ailments. Destination: screen fatigue

Screen fatigue, otherwise known as digital eye strain, is similar to what the late ‘00s coined as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Pre-smartphones and Netflix, of course.

Due to prolonged time in front of screens—be it at our desks, on our smartphones, tablets or a combination of all things technology—our bodies are ultimately taking the hit, becoming fatigued. Chances are that you’re staring at a glowing screen right now, and have checked an email, Snapchat, DM or Instagram notification in the past 10 minutes on a separate device.

While it may sound like a rather inordinate condition, the impact—both short term and long term—has the potential to seriously effect your day-to-day life.

With much of Generation Z unwilling to admit to the time they spend in front of their devices nor willing are they to reduce their screen time, we’ve looked at eight things you can do to help reduce the effects.

Here’s what you need to know about screen fatigue:

Symptoms
Impaired vision, strained eye muscles, inability to focus your vision,  neck and shoulder discomfort, poor posture and painful headaches.

Why it matters
If left untreated, symptoms will not improve on their own and will likely get worse. Not to mention the mounting research signalling that too much blue-light exposure found in our screens interferes with our body’s ability to set our circadian rhythm, i.e. our sleep patterns.

Contributing factors
Poorly lit workstations, poorly considered desk setup, and incorrect lenses or lack thereof.

How can you prevent screen fatigue?

Having agreed reduced daily screen time is off the cards, reducing the impact of being desk bound in a digital world comes down to introducing a few key actions and habits. Such as:

1. Get it light, get it tight
Ensure your room lighting is about the same or slightly dimmer than your computer screen. Overhead fluorescent lighting will aggravate the symptoms so (where possible) get these dimmed. As for your late night scrolling sessions or series binges, please, we repeat, please dim the brightness of your devices as low as they go.

2. Organise your workstation 
Adjust your computer screen so that your comfortable line of sight is slightly lower than straight ahead. Position it so you can read it without having to lean forward. It’s all in the ergonomics people. Prepare to be a whole lot less fidgety and way more productive. Not to mention improve your posture and say ta-ra to muscle aches and headaches.

3. Make your text BIGGER
By increasing the text size on all of your devices you’re eliminating the need to squint and strain your eye muscles. Easy fix, right?

4. Just blink’n blink
Dry eyes is the most common cause for poor vision at your computer, so get blinking to lubricate your eyes and blink often.

5. Get your eyes checked
Visit a professional and get your vision tested. If glasses or a new prescription is on the cards, request that your lenses come with a film coating that protects against screen blue-light and prevents further eye-strain.

6. 20-20-20
If maintaining focus is your issue, then try out the anti-fatigue 20-20-20 technique to reduce spasms occurring around your eyes. Basically you look away from the computer every 20 minutes at something about 20 feet away (6 metres) for about 20 seconds. Tip: Set a timer on your desktop to remind you at 20 minute intervals to look away for twenty seconds. It’ll be annoying for the first few days or weeks until it becomes a habit, but it’s totally worth it.

7. Hydrate
Eye tissue is predominantly water so if you become dehydrated, so will your eyes, leaving them extra dry. Just another reason to throw back the magic aqua.

8. Downtime
Use your weekends to not look at screens, or at least significantly reduce your time in front of screens. We know it’s hard, but this is your health we’re talking about, right?

Photos: Getty Images

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