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.
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.