Preventing eye strain can be implemented into our daily routines. Eye strain or eye fatigue is a very common and annoying condition that most of us suffer from. The medical term for eye strain is known as asthenopia. There are many different reasons why we suffer from eye strain. Overall, it can be caused by anything that uses the eyes intensely. Specifically; reading, writing, driving, and even bright lights can be the cause of eye strain. It’s very hard to avoid eye strain in today’s day and age due to the prolonged hours we use our computers, smartphones and other digital devices.
(Fig 1.0, eye strain due to concentrated tasks)
Some people may wonder why digital devices actually produce eye strain. It is found that digital devices such as smartphones are held closer to the eyes than books are. This makes the eyes work harder, and eyes normally strain more due to the small print that we try to read on our smartphones. We normally blink about 18 times a minute; this refreshes the eye using the tears we produce, however, when we are concentrating on the extremely important things on our smartphones; whether it be Candy Crush or socialising on the all important Facebook, we tend to blink less. It can be reduced to 3 to 4 times a minute! This can leave our eyes feeling very tired, sore and itchy. Eye strain linked to the computer is so common that it has been given its own name. ‘Computer vision syndrome’ is synonymous to eye strain.
It is also good to know that no evidence has been found to show that suffering from eye strain and carrying on with computer use has structural or functional damage to the eyes. Glasses can also cause the symptoms of eye strain, looking through a lens for a very long period of time can cause your eyes to get very tired, and irritated. On the other hand, not correcting your vision for any long sightedness or short sightedness can also produce eye strain.
Going through the causes of eye strain can show us it’s very hard to avoid the symptoms it produces. Symptoms include; blurry or double vision, irritated eyes, dry or watery eyes, sensitivity to light, tightening of the temples or the back of the head, and headaches. The headache is normally on both temples and can be relieved by stopping the visual task that produces it. It can very rarely produce a pounding headache. Ongoing eye irritation can also be a result from sleep deprivation. Certain medications, being fatigued and stress can also cause the eye strain symptoms to become worse.
However, there are many ways of relieving the symptoms that eye strain produces. Here are ten top preventing eye strain tips:
(Fig 2.0, typical setup for a office space)
Keep your computer screen 20-26 inches away from your eyes, and slightly below eye level.
Clean smudges! Smudges can reduce contrast and increase glare, which can contribute to eye strain.
Consider using a glare light filter. This is quite a good investment if like most of us your occupation and day to day life requires a lot of digital devices around you! A blue light screen protector is a great place to start, which can keep your eyes very relaxed(see tip 10).
Always take regular breaks from the computer. Go for regular walks around the office or house.
The 20-20-20 rule! We would all benefit from this all important rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet into the distance, for 20 seconds! And if your manager walks past and asks you to get on with your work, refer him back to this post. When suffering from a headache, gently massage your temples in a rotary fashion for about a minute, with your eyes closed.
BLINK! Put a note on your computer screen/tablet to remind yourself to blink.
When your eyes are feeling tired or dry, use a warm compress on your eyes to relax them. Make sure your eyes are closed. An Eyebag is a great product, which is the easiest product on the market for a warm compress.
Use artificial tears when your eyes are feeling dry. Products such as Blink and Hycosans, which can be bought off the shelf from many places, are great.
Use a humidifier. These have many benefits for your lifestyle anyway, and knowing they’re great for your eyes is an added bonus.
Finally using an Ocushield on your digital devices cuts the harmful blue light from your iPad or iPhone, preventing eye strain due to prolonged digital device us.
If symptoms occur, be sure to book in for an eye test preventing any further eye strain.
These tips are well documented and recommended by organisations such as Prevent Blindness, the National Eye Institute and Get Eye Smart.