Sites for sore eyes

If the average student takes five classes a semester, all with 1-hour Zoom classes or asynchronous equivalents and does all their homework online, how much time is that student spending looking at a screen? How much should they be looking at a screen? What are the effects of staring at a screen for that long? And is there a way to mitigate them?
In August of 2019, a Guardian article suggested that Americans spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phone screens each day; the article did not include computer or tablet screens in the measure.
Now that students and faculty members are doing classes from home and meetings, social events and other gatherings are solely digital, computer and screen use has shot sharply upward. According to a study conducted by Alcon/Ipsos, 59% of say they spend significantly more time on their smartphones since the pandemic began, and 55% say they spend more time in front of a computer screen.
If that student mentioned above has one, 1-hour Zoom session a day and 3 hours of homework (all digital due to COVID-19,) they are spending 25% of their waking hours on a screen. This does not account for social media time, time spent digitally with friends or family and other screen-based entertainment like video games or TV. Estimating conservatively, the time on those might be somewhere in the two-hour range. Add the phone-time figure from Alcon/Ipsos, and the amount of time spent on screens outweighs the amount spent off of them.
All this screen time adds up quickly. How does this behavior affect us physiologically? As it turns out, it might be damaging us in a couple of ways.
According to the American Optometric Association, there is a very real side-effect of too much computer use: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also called Digital Eyestrain.
CVS is a group of eye- and vision-related issues that result from prolonged screen use. The most common symptoms are eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eye and neck and shoulder pain.
While the most severe of symptoms can be fixed by changing seating posture and lighting, blinking often and taking breaks, the number one recommendation is the 20/20/20 rule.
Every 20 minutes of computer use, try looking at something 20 feet away (such as out a window) for 20 seconds to avoid losing depth perception. Try taking alternate tasks throughout the day, like making phone calls or taking a walk.
Fortunately, CVS and related eye strain issues aren’t permanent. Once the sufferer takes a break from the technology (experts recommend a nap and hydration!) the strain will go away. Some cases require extended breaks of over a day.
People with astigmatism or farsightedness may find that they experience CVS often; this can be mitigated with a different prescription of eyeglasses or eyedrops.
All in all, it’s important to take breaks, drink water, and listen to your body when it tells you it’s time to stop.