Does the 20-20-20 rule prevent eye strain?

Does the 20-20-20 rule prevent eye strain?

Spending long periods looking at computer , phone, or tablet screens may strain the eyes. Using the 20-20-20 rule will help to avoid this issue.

The law states that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Following the law is a perfect way to try to take regular breaks. This should minimize eye strain caused by looking at digital screens for too long.

In this post, we explain how to use the 20-20-20 law effectively. We also explore the study behind the rule and other tips for avoiding eye strain.

How to use the 20-20-20 rule

Following the 20-20-20 rule means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes from looking directly at a screen.

According to the Optometry Times, the 20-20-20 rule was designed by Californian optometrist Jeffrey Anshel as a simple reminder to take breaks and stop eye strain.

An individual takes a 20-second break from looking at a screen every 20 minutes while following the rule. The person concentrates on an object 20 feet away during the break, which relaxes the muscles of the eye.

The following techniques will assist an individual to bring this rule into practice:

  • Set an alarm for every 20 minutes while working, as a reminder to take a break.
  • Download an app developed to help people follow the 20-20-20 rule. The ProtectYourVision and eyeCare apps are some examples.
  • Look out a window during the 20-second breaks. Judging a distance of 20 feet inside can be difficult, but focusing on a tree or lamppost across the street should work well.

Alternately, every 20 minutes, a person can profit from closing their eyes for 20 seconds. Even, by encouraging the production of tears, remembering to blink will avoid dry eyes.

To avoid back and neck pains, someone who spends the day sitting should regularly get up and walk around.


No scientific research has evaluated the 20-20-20 rule ‘s efficacy, but it is recommended as a way to minimize eye pressure by both the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Results of a 2013 study involving 795 university students indicated that there were less signs of computer vision syndrome, including eye strain, watering or dry eyes, and blurred vision, among those who frequently refocused on distant objects while using the computer.

Symptoms of eye strain

Several symptoms can indicate eye strain, including:

  • eye watering
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • headaches
  • eye redness

Sitting for a long time in the same place has other adverse effects on the body. It may cause neck, back, or shoulder pain, for instance.

Tips for preventing eye strain

The following strategies will help to minimize or avoid eye strain, much like the 20-20-20 rule:

Applying eye drop
Applying eye drops can help a person suffering from dry eyes, which can occur when using digital screens for long periods.
  • Using eye drops. A person blinks less than usual when using digital screens, and this can dry out the eyes. Drops or artificial tears can be purchased at most pharmacies. Specialty eye drops are available for people who wear contact lenses. Preservative-free eye drops are best.
  • Change computer settings. Making text twice as large as usual can reduce eye strain. Reading black text against a white background is easiest on the eyes.
  • Reduce screen glare. Protective anti-glare screens can be applied to computers and eyeglasses, to prevent eye problems. Also, flat screens tend to have less glare than curved ones.
  • Adjust the screen’s contrast. Change settings so that the screen is bright enough to read the text without straining. The right contrast may change, depending on the presence of sunlight.
  • Get regular eye checkups. Poor eyesight is a major cause of strain. Regularly attending checkups will ensure that a person has an updated prescription when needed.

The above techniques entail little time or economic commitment, but they can minimize the eye strain associated with the use of tablets, phones , and computers.


The 20-20-20 rule is an efficient way of minimizing eye strain caused over long periods by staring at digital screens.

If after a person has tried to use the rule and other methods of prevention, eye strain persists, they should see a doctor, who may check for underlying problems such as chronic dry eye.

It may be necessary for the eye doctor to assess their vision and measure the amount of moisture in the eyes. The doctor will take the profession and general eye health of an individual into consideration when making recommendations.