Tips on preventing digital eye strain

 

The current Covid 19 situation has many of us working from home and logging long hours on  computers and other devices. This can lead to digital eye strain. Digital eye strain is defined as the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours within close or mid-range distance of a digital device such as a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, e-reader or cell phone.

 

Eye Strain signs and symptoms from Myoclinic.org include:

  • Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open

 

 Here are some eye exercise tips to avoid eye strain:

  1. One cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

 

2. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times. This exercise reduces the risk of your eyes’ focusing ability to “lock up” (a condition called accommodative spasm) after prolonged computer work.

 

3. To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.

 

Here are 4 yoga exercises for avoiding eye strain from Yoga International.com:

 

  1. PALMING

Rub your hands together for 10 to 15 seconds until they feel warm and energized. Then gently place your hands over your eyes, with the fingertips resting on the forehead, the palms over the eyes, and the heels of the hands resting on the cheeks. Don’t touch the eyeballs directly, but hollow the hands slightly and allow them to form a curtain of darkness in front of the eyes. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax. Envision the eyes absorbing the darkness like a sponge, while also welcoming healing warmth and energy from the hands. Invite the eyes to grow soft and spacious, and enjoy this break from visual stimulation. Continue this palming action as long as it feels soothing—for just a few seconds or up to five minutes. When you are ready to emerge, gently remove the hands from the face and slowly open the eyes.

This palming technique can also be done after the eye exercises that follow to further rest the eyes.

 

 2. EYE ROLLING

Sit upright with a long spine and relaxed breath. Soften your gaze by relaxing the muscles in your eyes and face. Without moving your head, direct your gaze up toward the ceiling. Then slowly circle your eyes in a clockwise direction, tracing as large a circle as possible. Gently focus on the objects in your periphery as you do this, and invite the movement to feel smooth and fluid. Repeat three times, then close the eyes and relax. When you’re ready, perform the same eye-rolling movement three times in a counterclockwise direction.

 

3. FOCUS SHIFTING

Relax your body and breathe comfortably. Hold one arm straight out in front of you in a loose fist, with the thumb pointing up. Focus on your thumb. While keeping your eyes trained on it, slowly move the thumb toward your nose until you can no longer focus clearly on it. Pause for a breath or two, and then lengthen the arm back to its original outstretched position, while maintaining focus on the thumb. Repeat up to 10 times.

 

4. DISTANCE GAZING

Rest your gaze on a distant object (if you’re indoors, look out a window, if you can). Focus on the object as clearly as possible, while staying relaxed in the eyes and face. Take a deep breath, and then slowly shift your gaze to another distant object around you. Imagine your eyes are gently “drinking in” the image you see. Continue letting your eyes drift about the world around you, momentarily pausing at objects at varying distances away from you. As an extra bonus, if you spy something particularly pleasing, smile, enjoy the vision, and give thanks for your strong, healthy eyes.

 

Here are some additional ideas to avoid eye strain brought to you by WebMD.com:

 

  • Make sure your computer screen is about 25 inches, or an arm’s length, away from your face. 
  • The center of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level.
  • Cut glare by using a matte screen filter. You can find them for all types of computers, phones, and tablets.
  • Take a longer break of about 15 minutes after every 2 hours you spend on your devices.
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
  • Try putting a humidifier in the room where you most often use a computer or other device.
  • Make sure the lighting in the room you’re in is bright enough. You don’t want your device to be brighter than the surroundings.
  • Raise the contrast on your screen.
  • Make text larger.
  • Change the brightness of the screen. It shouldn’t be lighter or darker than your surroundings.
  • Lower the color temperature of your screen. That means it will give off less blue light, which is linked to more eyestrain.
  • Raise the device’s refresh rate. That will cause less flickering of the screen.

 

Todd Knorr

Physical Therapist

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