7 ways to prevent screen fatigue

It may not be possible to fully limit your screen time (especially in these days of online classes), but these tips will help you deal with the strain.

A young woman squints at her laptop screen. Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

If you're like me, you spend long hours looking at screens for work and studying, and then scroll on your phone before bed. Staring at screens for this long can be draining and can actually cause screen fatigue (eyestrain). To help you out, I've included some tips that you can start using today to improve your eye health!


First, what is screen fatigue?

It's a term for the digital eye strain that comes from looking at screens for long durations of time. It impacts your body through impaired vision, strained eye muscles, inability to focus your vision, neck and shoulder discomfort, poor posture, and painful headaches. Sounds rough (and familiar), right? That's why it’s important to take steps to help prevent screen fatigue.


Try a screen reader

Dal offers a free screen reader that can limit the amount of time you need to spend looking at your screen. It allows you to listen on the go and gives your eyes a needed break. Consider integrating the screen reader into your study methods to help break up the time you spend staring at your computer.


Audiobooks are your friend

Look into audio options for your textbooks or required readings. They let you listen wherever you are, so you can grab your headphones and go for a walk or sit outside. It's way more pleasant than being hunched over your laptop or tablet!


Schedule eye breaks

You should give your eyes short breaks by looking away from your screen. Experts recommend that every 20 minutes, you move your eyes from your screen towards something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This is called the 20-20-20 rule, and it's good practice to incorporate it into your study routine.


Workspace design is key

Make sure that your workspace is well lit, because working in dim light can further strain your eyes. Reduce glare on your screen when possible, and change the settings on your laptop to make the contrast and brightness levels comfortable for you. I also recommend enlarging text to make it easier to read.



Research shows that we blink less when we're looking at a digital screen. The issue is that remembering to blink more is easier said than done. You can try putting a sticky note or other reminder in your line of sight that will remind you to take moments to blink more.


Drink water

We all know it's important to drink water, but it is especially crucial when trying to prevent dry eyes due to screen fatigue. Staying hydrated will give your body more moisture to use. Honestly, even without screen fatigue, we should all be drinking more water anyways.


Step away from the devices

Try to give yourself a morning or afternoon break from screens so that your eyes can reset themselves. If this isn't possible, try to limit screens at least an hour before going to sleep. That will help improve your overall sleep, which is when your eyes are guaranteed to be able to rest.