4 min

exercises to helpwith eye strain

introduction

We connect with and spend a great deal of our lives in front of screens. Between working, Zooming, Netflix marathon sessions and endless scrolling, the average adult will spend over 30 years of their life staring at screens.

This has been made worse over the past year with more and more of us suffering from Dry Eyes and Eye Strain (also known as Computer Vision Syndrome - read further down). This results in tired eyes, blurred or double vision as well as head, neck or back aches.

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“The 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your screen every 20 minutes, at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds - this helps to reduce eye strain.”

ALEX IONIDES, CONSULTANT OPHTHALMIC SURGEON AT MOORFIELDS EYE HOSPITAL, CO-FOUNDER AT MTHK.

Exercises to relax your eyes
  • When we’re looking at screens, our blinking is incomplete and less frequent, which could lead to dry eyes. Avoid eye strain by blinking consciously, keeping your eyes closed for half a second before reopening. Repeat this about 20 times and you’ll notice that your eyes start feeling fresher as they rebuild their natural hydration.
  • Sit with your back straight and, without moving your head, slowly and purposefully roll your eyes in a clockwise direction, starting with the left, then to the ceiling, then to the right and finally look at the floor. Repeat this 10 times. And then reverse the roll (i.e. counterclockwise). This exercise will help with eye fatigue.
  • Looking away from your computer screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds helps to reduce strain and fatigue on your eye muscles. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule.
  • Place the palms slightly cupped over your eyes, without applying pressure. Let your fingertips overlap, resting on the forehead and try to not let any light through and breathe deeply for about a minute. This exercise is known as ‘palming’ in the yoga world and it’s good for your eyes, as well as relaxing you.
  • You’ll need to use a screen (or a picture) for this exercise. Place the screen (tablet or computer) in front of you. Without taking your eyes off the, try to locate and touch all the objects around you (a glass of water, notebook, stationery etc.). Then, interact with the screen without losing sight of objects in your peripheral vision.
  • A gentle massage is a really effective way of relaxing your eyes after long periods of screen time. Put on some relaxing music , dim the lights and close your eyes. Gently use your fingertips to press your closed eyelids in a circular motion for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times or more. This massage is done without contact lenses or makeup.
  • What is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?

    Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet or smartphone use.

    There's no definitive proof that digital screen use causes any long-term damage to the eyes. But regular use can lead to general discomfort.

    Symptoms include:

    • (i) Blurred or double vision,
    • (ii) Tired eyes,
    • (iii) Dry Eye,
    • (iv) Headaches and neck or back pain, and
    • (v) General eye irritation.
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