With so much of our lives spent focused on screens, the importance of relaxing your eyes throughout the day cannot be understated. Digital eye strain, sometimes known as computer vision syndrome, affects an estimated 60 percent of individuals. Those rates are even higher for women at 69% and people who use multiple digital screens at the same time (75%). Even more unfortunate is the fact that digital screens are only becoming more incorporated into our daily lives, making it harder to give our eyes a break. The technological benefits of the digital transformation that has occurred over the last few decades are amazing. The impact on the vision of millions of people? Not so much.
Fortunately, there are steps everyone can take to protect their vision while still engaging with screens. The key is learning how to relax the eyes throughout the day. When we talk about learning how to rest your eyes, we don’t mean the old “resting my eyes” grandpa claims to do after Thanksgiving dinner right before he falls asleep. Sleep is definitely an eye relaxer, but most employers frown on their staff power napping during office hours. What we are talking about is learning how to relax eye strain.
As eye care professionals, we feel it’s important to help our patients maintain excellent “visual hygiene.” In this article, we will help you learn how to relieve eye strain and other tips for caring for the eyes.
Are You Suffering from Eye Strain?
Do you know the signs of eye strain? People often mistake the symptoms for other issues. Here are some signs it might be time to give those eyes a break!
- The area around your eyes feels sore
- Persistent headaches
- Dry, itchy, or irritated eyes
- Persistent shoulder tension, neck pain, and stiffness throughout the base of your skull
- Jaw pain
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Facial strain
Some of these symptoms may have other underlying causes. However, they can also be a sign that you are focusing too hard for too long. Shoulder and neck pain, for example, may be a sign that you are tensing up while you focus for extended periods of time. Similarly, jaw pain may occur when an individual spends house with their jaw clenched while staring at a screen.
Relaxation for Eyes: Practice the 20-20-20 Rule
The 20-20-20 rule is a set of simple steps you can follow to ensure that you give your eyes a regular break from staring at screens all day long. It’s one of the best ways to rest your eyes and it’s very easy to remember. For every 20 minutes you spend staring at a screen, you should spend 20 seconds gazing at a point 20 feet away. The 20-20-20 rule was developed by an optometrist to help patients create healthy patterns that protect their eyes from digital exhaustion.
How Do I Practice the 20-20-20 Rule?
If you spend most of your day gazing at screens (as many of us do), you can practice the 20-20-20 rule by setting a timer to remind you to look away. You can create a notification on your computer, set an alert on your phone or even buy an hour glass/sand timer. You can find sand timers that are filled to empty out over 20 minutes if you like. They make a fun desk accessory! Make it even easier for yourself by measuring out a focal point (make sure you don’t bother your coworkers) twenty feet from your desk. When your timer indicates, shift your focus from the screen and gaze at your focal point for 20 seconds (feel free to time that too — do what works best for you). It’s that simple.
Massaging Eyes for Eye Relaxation
Massaging your eyes may sound a little odd, but it’s actually a pretty simple technique. Using your index finger, gently massage the area around the bridge of your nose. Using very gentle pressure, massage the upper portion of your eye socket (keep your eyes closed). Rub your temples next to the outer corner of your eyes with a gentle circular motion. Finish by using a gentle touch to massage the lower portion of your eye socket and the area above your cheek bones. You can also combine eye massage with a technique known as “palming” your eyes.
How to Palm Your Eyes:
- Start by closing your eyes.
- Place your palms over your eye sockets. Do not press down hard. Think of how a child might cover their face if they see something scary. Warm up your hands first if they are cold.
- Focus on your breathing. Take slow steady breaths.
- Relax. Think of a soothing moment or image. Think of total blackness, which is one of the most soothing images for your eyes. Do not strain your eyes during this time. Let them rest.
- Double down and use this time to help you step back from other stressors, too.
Now that you know the importance of relaxing eye muscles throughout the day, we hope you will find that there is a big difference in the soreness and dryness in your eyes at the end of each day. Calm eyes are much happier eyes! By learning how to relax eye muscles periodically during heavy screen usage, you will protect the future of your vision while making its present state much more pleasant.
Do you have issues with eye strain, tension or persistent headaches? It might be time for an eye exam! Give us a call to set up an appointment. We may be able to help.