How long have you been staring at the computer screen? An hour? Two? Even longer? Throughout our daily lives, we are constantly taking our vision for granted, often times even abusing it to the point where we develop discomfort due to long, intense sessions.
If you aren’t convinced about taking the initiative to relieve eye strain and protect your eyes, maybe you’ll want to do so for your productivity at work: computer-vision-syndrome.org states that by refusing to correct or improve your vision, your productivity level at the computer is capable of decreasing by 20 percent.
That’s a lot—no, it’s too much. So just as we stretch and relax our bodies and minds when tired, we must take care of our precious eyes by soothing the muscles and easing the level of intensity of our tasks.
What is eye strain? Many of us learn its definition the hard way, and it’s most likely that you, the reader, have too. Eye strain is a temporary condition in which we feel fatigue, pain, itching, “burning” sensation, blurred vision or headaches around the eyes as a result of their intense use. It is also known as eye fatigue or asthenopia.
A specific kind of eye fatigue occurs when we stare at electronic devices (computer screens, video games, smartphones, tablets) for too long—and it is known as computer vision syndrome. As our world becomes more technological, more of us will experience this eye fatigue both at work and at home.
Because I frequently experience eye strain myself, I have compiled a list of effective ways to combat it so that you can prevent long-term damage. After all, although it may be impossible for you to avoid doing detailed tasks that demand intense attention, there are always tips you can follow to alleviate and reduce the amount of fatigue your delicate eyes experience.
One of the easiest things you can do is to lessen the level of contrast between your electronic devices and your surroundings. Using your computer with a bright screen in a dark room causes you to work harder to focus and absorb the light that is entering your eye in order to read the screen.
Because of this, keep the room well lit to allow your eyes to experience a natural adjustment to whatever screen you are focused on. If you own a tablet or a smartphone, also keep the screen clean by wiping off any smudges, as any filth can build up and obstruct your viewing.
If you’re determined to treat eye fatigue more seriously, there are a splendid amount of products to protect your eyes from the computer screen.
The most effective ones are those that are based around the science of blue light—blue light is the most intense ray of the entire spectrum, and thus produces the most retina damage and greatest harm to your sleep cycle.
Nowadays, there are computer monitors that emit a low level of blue light while maintaining color quality so that your favorite TV series, games, movies and channels look just as wonderful.
BenQ Eyecare monitors specialize in this technology, as they use a special and unique CCFL monitor altogether. Of course, if you feel that a new monitor is too big of an investment, you can always purchase blue light filter (light-blocking glasses), blue light filter software, or simply a computer screen filter.
Unlike computer screen monitors, you can get blue light filtering glasses that completely eliminate the blue component of the color spectrum, keeping your eyes free of straining and helping to produce melatonin, a hormone involved in your sleep cycle that is normally only produced when you are in the dark.
Such glasses can be worn on top of your subscription glasses, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting them at all—just take them off and put them on! Blue light filter softwares that you install into your computer are another alternative, and there are plenty that are free to download.
Some of these programs will “yellow” the light to soften it, adapting automatically to the time of day that you are working. Filters that works as removable films for your desktop computer or laptop are readily available, and they are much more effective at blocking blue light than you think.
It’s also important to know some tips and tricks you can do for your eyes at any time or place. For being in front of the computer, the simplest thing you can do is to blink! Because we blink less when focused, eye blinking will keep your eyes refreshed and less dry.
Keeping some eye drops in a desk drawer is also another option. And don’t forget to take breaks! Eye exercises and eye relaxation exercises in particular can do tremendous good for your vision, and they only take a few moments.
Tricks such as eye rolling, focusing and defocusing your vision, making up and down eye movements, massaging your eyelids, temples, and the hollows of your eyes can all work wonders. Looking far away is always beneficial because it relaxes and loosens up the muscles in your eye.
Looking at green things to better your vision is actually just a common myth but it does psychologically make your body feel free or refreshed, thus relaxing your body muscles.
Always follow the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests to take a break from the computer every 20 minutes, to look at something 20 ft away (6 meters) for 20 seconds. Lastly, I suggest considering the Eyerelax computer program for your short work breaks, as it is free and helps you time your breaks so you can make sure that your eyes get the rest they deserve. Simple and straightforward, there is really isn’t a reason not to download it.
All in all, there are plenty of ways of relieving eye strain, so it all depends on your budget and your lifestyle.
Educating yourself on eye strain allows you to make more consciously healthy choices in the way you live your life, and using the techniques and products mentioned above will help stop retina degeneration, improper sleep and improve your overall health.
As we become more dependent on technology in our daily lives, our eyes pay the price. Investing in a pair of blue light filter glasses or even attachable lenses can become a health tool that will improve all aspects of your day, it be at work, home or even when on your smartphone.
Taking our vision for granted keeps us ignorant about how delicate our eyes are and how valuable they can be.
Never forget that even by incorporating the quick 20-20-20 relaxation routine into your busy work life, you will be able to slow down retina degeneration in the long run.
Your eyes will also thank you for self massages and breaks such as those using the helpful Eyerelax program, and you’ll be able to get more work done by getting eye strains and other physical annoyances out of your way.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.