If you’re like many people, you spend a lot of time every day in front of a screen. Computer screens. Television screens. Tablets. Smartphones. All of that screen time can cause your eyes to become tired and dry. Your vision may be blurry. You may even have trouble focusing or have problems with depth perception. This is known as digital eyestrain, and there are two main causes of this problem.

Blinking: You often don’t blink enough. When you blink, your tears moisten your eye. On average, people blink about 18 times per minute. But studies have shown that people blink about half as often when using digital devices. This can dry your eyes out.

Focusing: You don’t shift your focus enough. Your eye is flexible and can change shape to focus on objects that are close by or far away. When you’re in front of a screen for a long stretch of time, your eyes are trained on one spot that is a fixed distance away. That means your eyes don’t get a chance to shift and stretch to refocus.

The good news is that this is not a serious issue. It may be uncomfortable, but it won’t lead to any long-term eye problems. Here are a few easy tips that can help lessen your symptoms.

  1. Blink more often. Aim for the average of 18 blinks per minute. Have trouble remembering to blink? Place a note near your monitor with a reminder. This will bring much needed moisture to your eyes and help refresh them.
  2. Take an eye break. Try the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet in front of you for about 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to shift focus. Think of it as a stretch for your eye muscles.
  3. Consider eye drops. These may help provide extra moisture for your eyes. But talk with your doctor first to see if eye drops are right for you and what type you should use.
  4. Check your workstation set up. In general, you want your monitor to be about 20 to 40 inches away from your eyes. And it should be low enough for your gaze to be tilted slightly down. Try to reduce glare by closing blinds or adjusting lights.
  5. Practice good eye care. If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure your prescriptions are up-to-date. Keep your contacts clean and replace them when needed. Talk with your doctor to see if you need glasses or contacts that are designed for use with computers.
  6. Reduce your screen time. Many people need to be on the computer for work. But what about during your free time? Consider taking a walk on your lunch break instead of checking your phone. Play a board game or do a puzzle instead of going to see a movie. Or swap your e-reader for a paperback.

Other healthy habits can also help, like getting quality sleep on a regular basis. And relaxation skills may help ease muscle tension in your neck and face.

Don’t let digital eyestrain cause you headaches. Keep your eyes healthy, rested, and refreshed.