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Using The 20-20-20 Rule To Reduce Computer Eye Strain

January 25, 2017 2 min read

The 20-20-20 rule is a simple tool designed to use at work or home to reduce eye strain from viewing a computer or other digital display screen such as cell phones, televisions, and tablets.

Good ergonomics and safety for computer workstation users involves frequent breaks. Computer users must also provide breaks to their eyes. Computer users often look at a computer screen for eight or more hours a day!

How does to 20-20-20 rule work?

The 20-20-20 rule reduces eye fatigue. The worker takes a break from screen time every 20 minutes, then looks at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This activity gives a regular break to the eyes to help avoid eye strain.

202020 rule

Tips for Remembering to Use the 20-20-20 Rule

It is often hard to start a new habit, especially if it is a healthy one. In order to remember to take eye breaks every 20 minutes, it might be helpful to set the alarm on a cell phone. However, this is distracting if a person works in a cube in close proximity to other people, so an alternative might be to set a timer to vibrate until one gets in the habit of naturally taking a short eye strain break every 20 minutes.

Common Symptoms of Eye Strain

After or during a long day of working at a computer, a person may experience the following symptoms of eye strain:

  • Sore, tired or burning eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Headaches


Practice the 20-20-20 rule, even if one is not experiencing eye strain, as it also works as an effective preventative measure.

Take a Break Even One Step Further

If one is willing, and one’s schedule permits, eye care need not stop with looking away from the computer screen every 20 minutes. Actually get up and walk around. Grab a cup of coffee or tea. Drinking water may be an even better choice because caffeinated and sugar-laden drinks can dehydrate the body, adding to eye strain by drying out the eyes. Visit a coworker’s cube and talk for a few minutes. Make a phone call while walking for a bit outside.

Not only will walking around reduce eye strain, but it keeps a person more active during an otherwise sedentary period, increasing alertness and leading to higher productivity, as well as supporting overall health and wellness.  Do you practice the 20-20-20 Rule?

One Love,

Dr. Jenna

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