Unlike other animals, which have keen senses of smell or hearing, humans rely on vision as their primary sense. Because so much of the way we interact with the world is through visual stimuli, our eyes are constantly working to provide us with key information about the environment. Focusing on certain types of objects in our world can lead to eye strain, preventing the visual system from effectively processing information. Fortunately, resting your eyes can prevent eye strain and alleviate its symptoms. Discuss your typical day with your optometrist to determine if you need to give your eyes a rest.
Common Causes of Eye Strain
As our modern world has changed, more people spend their days sitting in front of computer screens. Computers and televisions are backlit, meaning that they emit a glare. Staring at this glowing screen makes your eyes work harder, straining the delicate muscles that control your eye. Eye strain is especially problematic for office workers, individuals who perform detailed, close-up work, or those who frequently squint into the sun. People with eye strain often complain of headaches, blurred vision, or eye pain. Consult your eye doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.
Giving Your Eyes a Rest
Resting your eyes alleviates the hard work they perform by continually maintaining focus on nearby objects or glowing screens. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a break for approximately 20 seconds in which you look at an object at least 20 feet away. Looking at objects in the distance reduces eye muscle tension and lowers your risk of eye strain.
Also be cognizant of your rate of blinking. Purposely blinking more frequently keeps your eyeballs moist and your eye muscles relaxed. Many people also use artificial tears, available at pharmacies or through your eye doctor, to lubricate the eyes and provide relief from eye strain.
Another way to reduce eye strain is to relax your eyes and provide cool or warm temperatures. Simply closing your eyes for 10 seconds can reduce strain and provide instant release. Alternatively, consider rubbing your hands together and gently pressing the heels of your palms onto your closed eyes. The heat from your hands relaxes and soothes strained muscles. Applying a cool, damp towel or sliced cucumbers works similarly by relaxing eye muscles using cool temperatures.
Lighthouse International. “Americans Are Not Doing Enough to Protect Their Vision.”
Identify Eye Strain
Failing to properly rest your eyes can cause serious eye strain. Symptoms of eye strain include eye pain, blurred vision, headaches, or feeling as though your eyes are tired. Visiting your optometrist for an annual exam provides an opportunity to learn more about protecting your eyes from overuse. A thorough optometry exam includes visual field tests, eye muscle tests, examination of the retina, glaucoma tests, and additional assessments of eye strain. Make an appointment with your optometrist today to determine what steps you can take to give your eyes a rest.