5 Free, Easy Vision Hacks You Can Use Right Now

Try One or More for Clearer, More Comfortable Vision Today

Three out of four people reading this will experience eye strain today, according to the American Optometric Association.  That’s a whole lot of tired eyes.  But as a society, what can we do?  After all, we’re on our computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets an average of nine hours per day.  As it turns out, we can do a lot to maintain clear vision and comfortable eyes without even leaving our desks.

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It’s common for me to see patients with eye strain, and there’s no age limit.  It affects toddlers to retirees.  What’s worse (comical, even) is that during an eye exam specifically for eye strain, patients will stop to check their phone or tablet.  In the dark.  With their eyes dilated.  I’ll often joke, “Just looking at the pictures?”  I’m usually right.

In my last post, I emphasized getting help for any eye problems you might have.  I still stand by that concept.  And, I certainly believe the foundation of maximizing your visual lifestyle is a comprehensive eye exam by your favorite trusted eye doctor.

Help is Just a Few Inches Away

But I get it.  You may have already had your eye exam, or maybe it’s scheduled a few weeks out, and your work is piling up today.  You need relief now!

Read on to discover some of the best tricks I know to relieve eye strain and make your vision appear clearer and your eyes feel more comfortable:

  • Back up.  Why are we holding our phones so close to our faces?  It’s natural to bring an object closer if you can’t see it well.  But the closer you hold your phone, the harder your eyes have to work to see it.  It’s a hard habit to break, but if you train yourself to hold your phone just a few inches farther from your face you’ll work a lot less to keep it in focus.  This also works with tablets, laptops, and desktops.
  • Take breaks.  Studies have shown that four additional five-minute breaks throughout the day add up to greater productivity.  Look away from the screen, or better yet, get up and go for a brief walk or have a stretch.  And here’s another option, thanks to The Vision Council: take a 20-20-20 break.  Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • Adjust your display.  Use a medium brightness so your screen looks like paper – not too bright or too dim.  If it’s too bright, you may absorb too much high energy blue light, which can cause short term strain and long term damage.  And if it’s too dim, an invisible screen flicker will wreak havoc on your focusing muscles.  Also, reduce your screen’s color temperature to a warmer tone to reduce high energy blue light even more.  Of course, text is more easily read when the font size is increased, and black-on-white is best.
  • Blink more often.  When you concentrate, you blink less.  But blinking is how our eyes replenish tears.  So if you’re blinking less, your eyes will dry out, causing blurry vision and uncomfortable eyes.  I realize you can’t concentrate on blinking and on your work at the same time, but remember to do a quick series of blinks when you are taking those breaks.
  • Move closer.  This one is for the TV only.  That’s right, an optometrist just told you to move closer to your television.  But not too much.  It’s common for me to tell patients with poor vision to sit a little closer to their TV (or buy a bigger one – but that’s not free).  As long as we’re not talking about distances within arm’s length, moving closer to a TV doesn’t add a significant amount of focusing effort, but it does increase the relative size of your screen.

I know these tips are counterintuitive.    It’s hard to imagine that pushing a screen away from you will help you focus.  And who didn’t have a well-meaning family member bark at them for sitting too close to the TV?  But they work, and can make a real difference if you make them a habit.

Remember there’s no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam to help you get on track for eye health, clear vision, and visual comfort.  But if – or when – you find yourself struggling with eye strain in the middle of a work day, try some of these tips to make it through.

Question:  When was the last time you experienced eye strain?  How did it affect your work?  Please comment here or on our other social media pages.

5 Reasons Why You Need Help to Solve Your Vision Problems

Get Help for Quicker and Better Solutions

The do-it-yourself movement is in full swing.  Think about it.  Is there any area of your life that someone isn’t offering a DIY solution?  Your eyes and vision are no different.  From over-the-counter medications to online glasses vendors, there’s no end to the “help” you can get for your eyes.  But is that really the way you want to treat your most precious sense?

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All Pain, No Gain

Several years ago I treated a patient with severe eye pain.  Her eyes were red, painful, and swollen.  I asked how this happened and she said her eyes felt a little tired so she began using over-the-counter eye drops for relief.  That’s when things went downhill.

I asked to see the drops and was shocked to read the active ingredient: menthol.  That’s right.  That’s the same ingredient that makes cough drops burn your throat.  And she was dropping it into her eyes!

After explaining the pitfalls of self-treatment, I provided her with prescription eye drops that helped her get better quickly.  I’m sure self-diagnosis and treatment won’t be a mistake she repeats.

How About You?

Are you tempted to head to the nearest pharmacy for relief of your eye symptoms?  Or how about over-the-counter glasses for a little blurry vision?  That is the last thing you should do when you are trying to elevate your visual lifestyle.  Your goal is to have healthy eyes and clear, comfortable vision now and for a lifetime.  That’s already a tall order.  But it’s near impossible to achieve when you take your eye care into your own hands.

To succeed, you need to admit you don’t have the tools necessary.  And two, you need to find someone who does.

In a previous post I listed people that helped LaFollette Eye Clinic and The Eyewear Gallery make INVISION Magazine’s list of the Finest Optical Retailers in America.  I can’t emphasize it enough: get help to achieve lofty goals, and you’ll be much more likely to reach them.

Self-diagnosis and treatment can be ineffective at best and downright harmful at worst.  Here are several good reasons why you should head to your trusted eye doctor instead:

1. You don’t know the cause.  I often have people in public ask me about their eye problems.  But even I don’t know what’s wrong until I can see them in the office.  There are so many things that contribute to blurry vision and eye discomfort, it’s nearly impossible for me to guess without an exam.  And it’s much more difficult for patients.

2. You don’t know the solution.  In the story above, the young lady simply guessed, and she chose poorly.  What might have been an easy solution prescribed by her optometrist turned into a painful experience.

3. Symptoms can fool you.  As I mentioned, there are a number of things that can contribute to blurry vision and eye discomfort.  But here’s the problem: blurry vision can be caused by either a poor prescription, physical problems with the eyes, or both.  It’s common for people with blurry vision to come in for new glasses, when the real solution is to treat their eye problems.  On the other hand, sometimes uncomfortable eyes are due to an out-of-date glasses prescription.  And although contact lenses are great tools for correcting vision, they can cause both vision and comfort issues.

4. You’ll miss what’s most important.  When you see your trusted eye doctor, he or she should be able to help.  That’s a given, and you should expect it.  But as a bonus, you’ll learn about what is happening and why, as well as what you can do to prevent it in the future.  You can’t find that on a box of eye drops from the grocery store.

5. You’ll miss the big picture.  In addition to solving your problem and helping you avoid a repeat, you should leave your eye doctor’s office with information about preventive care.  This should certainly include eye and vision care.  But you may also learn about whole body health maintenance, nutrition for your eye health and vision, and even visual lifestyle accessories like sunwear and specialty eyewear.

Don’t miss out.  Or worse, don’t try to self-diagnose and risk missing the mark.  Eye care professionals have studied and practiced for years and sometimes decades.  And we do it because our contribution to the world is helping you with your visual lifestyle.

Question: Have you ever had a DIY project backfire?  What happened?  Please comment here or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  (I’ll go first: when I was young I nearly fried my new ceiling fan when I tried to install it myself.  I should’ve gotten help!)

Notes: Getting help is one of four major topics I introduced two previous posts, here and here.  As with today’s post, I expand each separately.  You can find links to the others in this post.

Video: 3 Hidden Vision Tips From a TV Interview

Listen Between the Lines for Hints About Your Visual Lifestyle

Last Week, I was interviewed by Kayla Strayer of Knoxville’s ABC affiliate, WATE Channel 6.  The segment was broadcast to highlight LaFollette Eye Clinic’s recent inclusion to INVISION Magazine’s list of Finest Optical Retailers in America.  It’s a fun segment, and I’m including it in this post.  Listen closely, because the conversation contains hints about how to improve your visual lifestyle.

Did you catch them?  I’ll give you an extra hint: in a post I published last week, I detailed several approaches to improving your visual lifestyle.  Here they are, in brief:

1. Do your best. The details really do matter.  They helped us achieve a perfect score on interior design, and details will help you amplify your visual lifestyle.

2. Make time to analyze. Even if you’re busy, slowing down to analyze will speed progress along.  The building project took twice as long to analyze as it did to construct.  It shouldn’t take that long to build up your visual lifestyle, but you’ll need time to analyze how you use your eyes before you act.

3. Get help. It’s a given that someone has the tools you need to get the job done right.  In the video, I mentioned just a few professionals that helped us.  You can read about more of them here.  The point: I don’t know much about construction, and you likely don’t know a whole lot about maximizing your vision.  Results are much better when you enlist the help of someone who has the knowledge and experience you need to do the job right.

4. Prioritize. Well, this one is why the title says three tips.  I didn’t talk about prioritizing in the interview, but I did emphasize it in a post last week.  Deciding which task is most important and concentrating on just that one will ensure the most important things actually get done.

I’ll flesh out the first three in future posts, applying the concepts directly to improving your visual lifestyle.  And, I’ll add a bonus post that highlights one phrase you shouldn’t say to yourself or your eye doctor (hint: it’s in the video).

Question: Have you ever tackled a big project?  How did you get it done?  Please comment here or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram Pages.