This study says you have to do more of this if you stare at a screen all day

Humans usually blink 20 times per minute, said researchers, but when they’re concentrating on computer work, that rate of blinking drops dramatically.

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It’s a drag staring at a screen all day. Sometimes it feels our lives are ruled by devices, be it computers, cell phones, or TVs.

In fact, a new survey says that 36% of adults claimed they wouldn’t be able to avoid looking at a screen for 24 full hours, and two in five couldn’t recall their last day without screens.


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Hycosan and Optase Eye Care commissioned a study that surveyed 2,000 British adults about their digital media habits. The survey found that the average person spends five and a half hours a day looking at screens.

The typical 9 to 5 worker is having eye discomfort by 2 PM and a third of office workers say that they often have headaches brought on by eye strain. One in five have experienced blurred or distorted vision.

The cause of the discomfort? A lack of blinking.

Humans usually blink 20 times per minute, said researchers, but when they’re concentrating on computer work, that rate of blinking drops to between just one and three times per 60 seconds.

That lack of blinks is leading to uncomfortable outcomes for many, from blurred vision to dry eyes to headaches from the strain.

“The results demonstrate how screens have really taken over our lives, they are everywhere we look,” eye care expert and oculoplastic surgeon Sabrina Shah-Desai said in a statement. “Obviously it’s difficult to avoid them, especially in a working environment, but it’s vital we take steps to look after our eyes and have regular breaks from artificial light and digital devices.”

Shah-Desai added that it was the time when people were focusing on computer work and going long periods without blinking that uncomfortable sensations like dry eyes, redness, a feeling of grittiness, and blurred vision set in.

Some people are taking heed to cut back on their time around screens. 27% of those surveyed had adjusted their brightness, and 50% took breaks from screen time. At home, they tried to stop looking at devices after 9:25 PM at night.

Screens, screens everywhere

Even though some people are taking care, that doesn’t mean that abstainers are able to avoid other people’s screens, however. In fact, they can’t: 3 in 10 had to deal with their partner using a cellphone in bed while they were trying to sleep, and 55% saw people with their phones out at social events.

One in 10 admitted phones had affected their relationships due to their partner being distracted. Just over half have been unable to avoid seeing television screens in bars or restaurants.

There’s one hack to be had, however, at least at work. Shah-Desai recommends the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.