The Strain of Online Learning: Tips to Aid Your Eyes

Eyestrain is a nuisance we’re all dealing with these days as we tackle quarantine learning and remote work. Technology is an amazing and beautiful thing, but the human eye hasn’t quite adapted to staring at a brightly lit screen for hours on end.

Common causes of eyestrain are digital device use, reading for long periods of time without pause, bright lights or glares, and stress. This is a perfect storm for all of us dealing with distance learning, online classes, and virtual work at home and can lead to any of the following side effects:

  1. Sore, tired, and/or itchy eyes

  2. Poor sleep

  3. Back, neck, and head aches

  4. Blurry vision

  5. Difficulty concentrating

The good news is that we can combat this with a few simple tricks:

  • Adjust Your Work Space. Eye strain can be worsened by your surroundings. If there’s glare on your screen from the sun or a lamp, that’s culprit number one. Simply adjust the angles of your study area or close the blinds. Further, the lighting of the room compared to the brightness of the screen can make a difference. If the room is either too bright or too dark it could lead to eyestrain. The best option is to have your screen slightly brighter than the ambient light of the room.

  • Schedule Breaks. Whatever breaks you can take during the course of your online learning, try to keep them off screen! Don’t pick up your phone or watch TV; instead, take a walk, make a cup of tea, or chat with a family member. Your eyes will thank you.

  • Exercise Your Eyes. If breaks are just impossible or too far away, there’s a really easy way to exercise your eyes and minimize eye strain without ever getting up from your desk. Every 20 minutes or so, look up from your computer and focus on a couple objects far away before returning to your work. It’s that easy.

If these simple tips don’t do the trick for you or you’re interested in optimizing your work space, there is a whole market of items to help soothe your eyes:

  • There’s an App for That (for the more tech inclined). Several apps, really, and many are free. A quick look into the app store of your choice will show a dizzying array of apps that will filter out blue light and/or adjust the color of your screen’s lighting to better match natural lighting and your circadian rhythms. This is particularly useful for people who have trouble sleeping because of too much screen time.

  • Speaking of blue light, the video gaming community has been combatting it for several years with a simple Gadget: light-filtering glasses. Admittedly, the gaming community tends to go for flashy, yellow tinted, sci-fi inspired lenses which might not be everyone’s style, but the market has widened with our increased interest in online working and it’s easy to pick up a pair that look like every day reading glasses.

Personally, adjusting the lighting in my workspace and taking breaks to exercise my eyes have done wonders for my productivity. I can work longer and more happily without tired eyes and tense temples. I hope some of these tips can do the same for you. Happy studying!

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