Tuesday, August 20, 2019

5 Ways to Reduce Eye Strain - And the Method that Actually Worked for Me


For the past few weeks, I have been struggling with eye strain. This led me to do a lot of research about what causes eye strain and how to solve it. I found 5 prominent ideas and tried them all - until I found the one that worked for me. I don't think that the one that worked for me will work for everybody, because the causes of your specific eye strain will be different to mine. If you can find out the reason why your eyes feel strained, you can take steps to deal with the problem at the cause and help your eyes to work at their best.

Here are the 5 best methods that I tried, the reasons why each one would work and the causes that they address, and the one that actually helped me (spoiler alert, the one that solved my issue is the last one: Method number 5).

How to help your eyes recover from eye strain

1) Use tea bags to help relax and restore your eyes

This method is quite simple. Simply brew two tea bags in hot water. Then put them on a plate so that they cool down. You want them to be warm enough to warm the eyes without burning them. You need to make sure that they are cool enough because your eyelids are very sensitive. Burning them will add pain to your eye area and make your problems even worse. Once they are at the right temperature, place them on your closed eyes while you lie down. Let them sit there for a few minutes until they cool down. After a while, they will become cold. The initial warmth will increase blood flow to your eyes, while the later cooling effect will ease inflammation. After a few minutes, place them back in the hot water to heat them up again and repeat the process. Do this for a few times until you feel like your eyes are completely relaxed.

I must admit that my eyes felt totally relaxed after doing this. I listened to music to keep myself busy during those few minute intervals and I placed a towel under my pillow so that the tea did not leak onto my bed.

How the teabag method will help with eye strain

This method will help with eye strain in a variety of ways. The heat and cold will bring fresh blood flow to your eyes while helping them to get rid of old blood that carries waste products. Your eyes have muscles that are used to focus and move the eyeball in different directions. The opposing temperatures help to heal these muscles. There are also nutrients in tea like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will nourish the eyes. This will help to reduce any swelling and inflammation, ease pain and discomfort, hydrate the eyes, and totally relax them.

If you have eye strain because your eyes do a lot of work like focusing or if your eyes have a lot of built up tension, this method will help them to relax and recover.

2) Focus on different distances

A lot of eye strain occurs because we tend to spend too much time focusing on a single length of distance. I have noticed that people who have a computer-related job often struggle to see long distance. I have also noticed that people who focus on more long-distance views (like drivers and people who work in the construction industry) tend to struggle to read papers or screens that are very close to their eyes.

Our eyes were made to focus on varying distances. By focusing too much on any particular distance, we lose our ability to focus well on other lengths. This happens due to homeostasis. In this case, homeostasis refers to your body's tendency to adapt to what it does regularly and reduce its ability to do what it doesn't need to do very often.

If you focus too much on one particular distance, your eyes will adapt by reducing their ability to focus on other lengths of distance. This will cause them to strain whenever you look at distances that are not the same as the distance you spend most of your time looking at. Your eyes, just like the rest of your body, need regular exercise to stay in good shape.

The 20/20/20 method and how it works

Every 20 minutes, look up from your computer screen and focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help to maintain your eye's ability to focus on more than one particular distance. If you can, take a regular walk away from your desk and try to focus on longer distances so that your eyes stay fit and strong. This will also give them a break from too much of the same line of focus.

This method is great for people who spend too much time in focusing on one type of distance and need to vary their lines of sight.

3) Give your eyes time to rest and recover

Your eyes might simply be overworked. Given the demanding nature of our daily jobs and the fact that we spend most of our waking life doing work-related activities, eye strain from too much stimulus is an extremely likely possibility.

Taking time off from work might not be plausible every time that you experience eye strain, but there are certainly things that you can do to give your eyes a break. If you focus on a computer screen for the majority of your working life, give your eyes a break by reducing your screen time when you are not at work. Try finding other relaxing activities that you can do like interacting with friends and family, spending more time doing sports, exercise and hobbies, or enjoying life beyond your house.

This will help with your eye strain if it is caused by being overloaded with too much stimulation of the same, repetitive nature.

4) Blinking

This method is just as important as the others. All About Vision explains that we naturally blink between 10 and 15 times a minute. When we focus on the computer, our phones or a TV screen; we can blink less than half of that amount. We also tend to blink less completely. This reduces the eye's ability to lubricate itself. Reduced blinking rates can lead to dry eyes and manifest in the form of eye degeneration and eye strain.

I struggled to remember to blink more whenever I was using a screen. Some sites recommend placing a bright sticky note on the side of your screen to remind yourself to blink. This wouldn't work for me because the sticky note will be too distracting. As a health and fitness writer, I need to constantly focus on my existing train of thought and write it down before it stops making sense. The slightest distraction could throw me off.

I was able to remind myself to blink more by making it into a little game. Depending on what I was doing, I had to blink in smaller intervals of whatever the task was. For example, when I edit my sites I need to blink with every click that I make on the mouse. When I am using my phone, I blink whenever I tap the screen. When I am writing content, I need to blink whenever I hit the space bar. 

This, along with drinking more water, will help to alleviate dry eyes that can hurt the normal functioning of your eyes.

5) Get the right lighting

It was through trial and error that I finally came to the cause (and solution) for why my eyes were strained. I typically work in a dark room. In this room, I spend a lot of time in front to the computer. My eyes adjusted to the overall dark lighting by increasing my sensitivity to light. This helped me to see throughout the entire room. My increased light sensitivity, met with the fact that I spend the majority of my time staring into the direct light of my computer screen, overloaded my eyes with a contradiction of low light and direct light. I spent a day brightening the room where I work. I also reduced the brightness of my screen to its lowest level. That same day, I did not experience any eye strain. I have not struggled with eye strain since.

We know how damaging it is to look into the sun. We can tell because it painful when we try and it takes a few seconds for our vision to return to normal afterwards. Although less severe, we also know not to look directly at welding sticks when they are being used because they can damage your eyes. Looking into a flash light will also cause discomfort for your eyes. Screens that emit light are the least severe of these comparisons, but affect the eyes in a similar way. By the way, have you ever noticed that it is easier to look into a flash light when you do it in the bright of the day? It is easier because the contraction between light and dark is not so heavy on your eyes. Your eyes will re-adjust its 'lighting settings' according to the overall lighting of your surroundings. This is why it takes your eyes a few seconds to re-adjust if you switch on a bright light in the middle of the night. 

Staring at a bright light in a dark room can hurt your eyes because they have adjusted to their overall surroundings, but need to function at a different light frequency. If lighting is the reason why your eyes are strained, try adjusting the lighting of your environment and the brightness settings of your screens until it is easier for your eyes.

I hope that this article will help you on your mission to conquer eye strain in the same way that it helped me. Stay Strong!

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