Healthy Eyes: Tips for Reducing Eye Strain
The things we do to ourselves… Last week I decided it was too hot to have the lights on in my office. I worked in a dim room all week and ended up with an annoying twitch in my right eye. So, I decided to do some research on eye strain and how to prevent it. Are you ready for the condensed version?
Your computer screen should be at arms length, with the middle of the screen setting approximately fifteen degrees below your sight line. Place the monitor at a right angle to any window or bright light source to reduce glare.
The lighting in the room should be no more than three times brighter than the screen. The best lighting is indirect; the aim is to avoid glare and shadow. Use task lighting for any paperwork.
Paperwork should be placed at the same level and angle as the monitor, or directly in front of the monitor, to reduce the strain of repeatedly changing focus.
Rest and Exercise:
Take a break at least every thirty minutes to relax your eye muscles, either rest with your eyes closed for a few seconds or choose one of these exercises.
You know this one. Look up, look down, look left, look right-- you should be able to feel the stretch. Making “figure eights” will work just as well, or look around the room and trace the outline of objects with your eyes.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures where there are two possible images. For instance, one might see either a beautiful woman with a bared shoulder or an old hag with a wart on her nose. The trick to seeing both images is to look without focusing. This type of vision relaxes the focus muscles.
Hold up your thumb, now look at your thumb then look at something distant. Go back and forth several times.
Finish by quickly rubbing your palms together and placing your hands over your eyes, the warmth and darkness will relax the muscles.
Did you know that when we are relaxed we blink twenty-two times per minute, but when we are at a computer we only blink seven times per minute? Blinking replenishes the moisture shield across our eyes. This moisture shield protects our eyes from germs and also allows proper light refraction for accurate sight. If your vision is fuzzy, or if your eyes are red or feel gritty, you may have dry eyes.
Artificial tears are perfectly safe to use as often as you need. Choose a good quality tear replacement product; many are available in preservative free formulas.
Increase your intake of EFAs (essential fatty acids), they are essential in keeping the mucous membranes moist.
If eye strain continues to be a problem, ask your ophthalmologist about computer glasses.
I’m more aware now of the improper lighting and the discomfort it has been causing, and my eyes feel better after trying just a few of these exercises. These tips helped me; I hope you find them helpful as well.