What is the 20-20-20 rule?

What is the 20-20-20 rule? This rule says that for every 20 minutes we spend looking at a screen, we should look at something 6 meters away for 20 seconds; that is, 20 minutes on the computer, 20 seconds looking away, and so on.

Following this rule is a great way to remember to take frequent breaks from the screen. Practicing it should reduce the eyestrain caused by looking at digital screens for too long.

How to use the 20-20-20 rule?

The 20-20-20 rule was designed by Californian optometrist Jeffrey Anshel as an easy reminder to take breaks and avoid eye fatigue, as we rest the eye muscles, according to Optometry Times.

The following methods can help us put this rule into practice:

- Plan an alarm for every 20 minutes while you're working, as a reminder to take that 20-second break.

- Download a mobile application that helps you follow the 20-20-20 rule. The applications ProtectYourVision and eyeCare are some you could use.

- Look out the window during 20-second breaks. Since calculating 6 meters is still complicated, it's best to look at a tree or street lamp across the street.

Alternatively, you can try closing your eyes 20 seconds every 20 minutes instead of looking out the window. Also, remembering to blink often can prevent dry eye by encouraging tear production.

What scientific evidence supports the 20-20-20 rule?

Few scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of the 20-20-20 rule, but both the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend it as a way to reduce eye fatigue.

Results from a 2013 study published in the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology involving 795 university students suggested that those who periodically focused on distant objects while using the computer had fewer symptoms of machine vision syndrome, including eye fatigue, watery or dry eyes, and blurred vision.

Tips for Preventing Vision Fatigue

- Use eye drops (we blink less than normal when using digital displays, and this can dry the eyes). You can buy drops or artificial tears at most pharmacies, as well as online.

- Change your computer settings. Making the text twice as large as normal can reduce eyestrain. Reading black text on a white background is also easier on the eyes.

- Reduce screen brightness. Protective anti-glare screens can be applied to monitors and glasses to avoid eye problems. In addition, flat screens tend to have less brightness than curves.

- Adjust screen contrast. Change settings so the screen is bright enough to read text without forcing your eyes. The correct contrast may change, depending on the presence of sunlight.

- Have regular eye checks. Poor vision is one of the main causes of stress.

 If eye strain persists after the 20-20-20 rule and other prevention methods have been implemented, a doctor should be consulted, who can check for underlying conditions such as chronic dry eye.