Posted on September 28, 2021
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
Whether you have recently found yourself working more from home or binge watching your new TV obsession from the comfort of your bed; you have likely been experiencing some degree of eye strain. In fact, recent studies suggest that nearly half of people over 35 suffer with eye strain weekly, yet only half actively pursue methods of relieving it. So, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of eye strain (headaches, dry eyes, fatigue), here are 5 ways you can prioritise your eye health and reduce the symptoms of eye strain.
It may seem like an obvious solve but, if something is causing you discomfort, it’s probably best to avoid doing it. This doesn’t always have to mean turning off all devices within a 30-metre radius of you, just a regular 20 second break looking at something that’s not electronic. Have a look out of the window, or take a casual glance at what’s going on around you. Even something as simple as looking at the wall ahead of you can provide the break your eyes need. Who knows, you might find a spark of inspiration in the cobwebs on the ceiling. Not to miss an opportunity for multi-tasking, why not use this time to focus on our next tip?
It might be easy to forget, but eyes have muscles just like the rest of the body. Muscles that can likewise benefit from regular exercise to maintain their health. There’s no need to add ‘eye day’ to your gym routine, but simple exercises (like blinking, looking up, down, left and right without moving your head and tracing a figure of eight on the wall) performed daily can have a positive impact on the health of the eye. Giving them a break from following text on a computer screen and working the muscles in an unusual direction to ‘blow the cobwebs off’ so to speak. This is also why you can develop eye strain after a long car journey, where you are focused on one spot on the road ahead of you for continuous stretches. Although we wouldn’t recommend any eye exercises whilst you are behind the wheel.
If you are concerned with eye strain, you have likely heard already about blue light and its impact on the eye. The predominant light produced by the screens we love: phones, computers, tablets, televisions, that has recently entered the scene as a problematic influence on the eye. Studies have shown that blue light can pass through the cornea and lens and to the retina to cause damage to the deeper levels of the eye and can also disrupt the body’s melatonin secretion. As the hormone responsible for providing good quality sleep, there’s now two reasons that watching the cliff-hanger season finally of your favourite show before bed can leave you restless and struggling to settle. Thankfully, there is a way to reduce the impact of blue light on the eye, the most notable being the use of blue light filtering glasses. Blue light filtering glasses have been found to reduce the impact of harsh lighting from bulbs and screens by 10.6%-20.6% and could make a great addition for people looking to relieve some of the symptoms of eye strain. Also, staying away from screens for at least an hour before sleep can help alleviate blue-light caused insomnia.
Despite all of the tips demonstrated above, eye strain can sometimes seem unavoidable: work still has to be done, shows still have to be watched. So, on days where the grind comes first, here are some self-care treatments that you can use to alleviate some of the symptoms of eye strain temporarily. Topical treatments such as cooling or heated eye masks can be useful in helping to reduce feelings of dryness or irritation associated with eye strain, as well as helping you to wind-down at the end of a long day. If you don’t have either of these and would like a quick alternative, a damp (but not dripping) flannel can work well- just use hot or cold water depending on preference (but not so hot that it is uncomfortable or hot enough to burn). Or practices such as ‘palming’, which is a traditional yoga practices whereby you warm up your hands and cup them gently over your closed eyes.
Finally, at the risk of sounding like your mum at 7pm on a school night, getting an adequate amount of sleep (8+ hours) is a great way to help relieve some of the symptoms of eye strain. Allowing your body to perform the many restorative processes allowed to us through proper REM sleep. Remember to avoid screens at least an hour before you go to sleep and get the rest you and your body needs.
 The Newsroom. (2018). 44% of Brits over 35 experience eye strain at least once a week but do nothing about it. Available: https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/health/44-of-brits-over-35-experience-eye-strain-at-least-once-a-week-but-do-nothing-about-i50496t-. Last accessed 20th September 2021.https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/health/44-of-brits-over-35-experience-eye-strain-at-least-once-a-week-but-do-nothing-about-it-50496
 Sheppard, A.L. and Wolffsohn, J.S.. (2018). Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmol.. 3 (1), 1-10.