Eye strain occurs when your eyes have been overused for an extended period of time, such as when you look at a computer screen all day. While eye strain does have side effects (headaches, blurred vision, dryness and discomfort), it doesn’t lead to long-term damage.
If you battle eye strain frequently, you don’t have to sit back just because there are no long term consequences. There are effective exercises that can be practiced to reduce eye fatigue and even improve eyesight. The eyes are muscles, after all, so they can easily become lethargic if they don’t receive enough exercise, or fatigued if they have too much.
Let’s look at three exercises that are good for reducing eye strain and its symptoms.
1. 20-20-20 Rule
If you work in front of a computer all day, you’re at risk for eye strain. Rather than focusing on your screen for 8+ hours a day, look away from your screen every 20 minutes.
Focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is called the 20-20-20 rule by eye specialists. The purpose of this exercise is to relax the muscles inside the eye by looking at something far away.
You can also try this exercise: Look at a faraway object for 10-15 seconds, then look at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Do this 10 times. The goal of this exercise is to prevent your eyes from “locking up.” Don’t forget to blink a lot during the exercises to prevent dry eyes!
2. Around the Clock
With this exercise, start by closing your eyes while sitting in a comfy chair (or as comfy as it’s going to get). Imagine a clock in front of you with the numbers 12-6. Rotate your eyes from the 12 to the 6 in a clockwise motion while closed. Repeat 15-20 times.
Now, imagine the numbers 3 and 9 on the clock. Rotate your eyes in a clockwise motion from the 3 to the 9 about 15-20 times. To wrap up the exercise, move your eyes in a counterclockwise motion.
If you don’t like the idea of rolling your eyes around (some people say they feel motion sickness), try this exercise instead: Close your eyes and put your hands over them for 1-3 minutes while you let your eyes rest.
3. Massage Time
Since your eyes are muscles, they are capable of being massaged! Bet you didn’t know that! Start by closing your eyes and squeezing them shut for a few seconds. Let the muscles relax. Squeeze them shut again for a few seconds and release. Repeat this 10 times.
You can also gently rub your eyelids in clockwise and counterclockwise motions to massage your eyes. However, use good judgement with this one. Wash your hands first, don’t press too hard and don’t mess up your eye makeup!
For more ideas, check out this great post that will walk you through the various eye exercises you can do.