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Whether it’s from staring at a computer screen at work or from staying up till three in the morning to finish reading a book, most of us have experienced the feeling of having tired eyes at some point or another. If we over-use our eyes too much on a regular basis, though, eventually we can start to develop chronic eye strain.
One of the best things we can do to reduce eye strain and improve our overall health would be to spend less time staring at screens and more time doing things like taking a walk out in nature . . . but let’s be honest with ourselves. No matter how much we might make it a goal to spend less time online, we’re probably all still going to be spending a significant amount of time checking email or Facebook, or browsing the internet, or even reading a book on an electronic device.
Technology is a widespread and basically an inevitable part of our modern lives and even the most old-fashioned of us can end up with tired eyes from staring at a screen. Rather than having to avoid screens altogether (since computers and smartphones really are pretty convenient and fun to use most of the time), here are a few simple things we can do prevent the negative effects on our vision and reduce eye strain naturally.
1) Take Short Breaks to Rest Your Eyes
This is probably the most obvious way to reduce eye strain, but it’s also probably the most difficult to actually put into practice. It’s so easy for us to get almost addicted to staring at our computer screens or our phones, or staying up to read “just one more chapter” of a really good book.
The general guideline is to rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The best way to actually make sure to do this is to either set a timer to remind yourself to rest your eyes every 20 minutes or so, or to install an app that will remind you automatically. (But, of course, you have to actually take a break when the timer goes off and not just ignore it or reset the time again…)
And it’s important to try to remember to listen to your body, too, and take longer breaks when you need to. If you find yourself all hunched over with a stiff neck and tired eyes because you’re endlessly scrolling through your Facebook of Pinterest feeds, it might be a good idea to just get up and walk around or do something that doesn’t involve staring at a screen for a little while.
2) Rest Your Eyes By Looking Off Into the Distance
If you do a lot of close up work like reading, staring at a computer, tablet, or phone screen or even hobbies that require you to focus closely at things to see the details, it is very restful for the eyes to be able to stare off into the distance without having to strain to focus on something up close. A good way to do this is to look out a window at the sky or the trees and just let your eyes relax for a few minutes.
3) Do Exercises for Your Eyes
It might sound a little strange to think about exercising your eyes, but the eyes are muscles too, and just like any muscle, they need to be exercised. When we spend a lot of time staring at screens and reading things close up, we tend to over-use the muscles that are required for seeing things close up, and we don’t exercise the other muscles enough.
I really like this simple sequence of exercises from Thank Your Body for how to improve your eyesight naturally. It’s really easy to do and it only takes a few minutes.
4) Adjust Your Screen or Reading Environment
This seems like it would be obvious, but there are so many times that I find myself squinting to see past the glare on my computer screen or straining to read small print in dim light. Sometimes all it takes is a small adjustment to make reading easier and to reduce the strain on your vision.
A slight tilt of the computer screen can help with the glare, or moving a lamp a few inches closer or further away, depending on whether you need brighter light or are trying to reduce glare. And it’s easy to forget that you can almost always adjust the settings on electronic devices to make the text a little bit bigger and easier to read.
5) Try Wearing Eye Strain Reducing Glasses
If you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, another option is to get special computer glasses that are designed to help reduce eye strain, prevent glare, and help the eyes to focus more easily. Depending on your preference, there are different styles and lens colors. The ones I use have amber tinted lenses, and those are fine for me since most of my computer use is on the days that I work from home anyways. But if you work in an office and you want glasses that look more “normal,” there are several options with clear tinted lenses as well.
6) Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your eyes are already going to be tired and they’ll have to work even harder, so they’ll end up being even more strained if you spend a long time reading or staring at a computer screen. A good night of sleep is the best way to allow the eyes to fully rest, and making sleep a priority is one of the more important ways to help to reduce eye strain or to prevent it from happening in the first place.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.