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Sep 20, 2021

Whether you work in front of a laptop all day, enjoy binge-watching series or you’re an avid gamer, your screen may be the cause of eye strain. Although eye strain doesn’t have serious consequences, it can leave your eyes feeling tired and dry. Fortunately, you may avoid eye strain with a few simple eye exercises.

Common causes

Besides digital device screens, the following are also common causes of eye strain:

  • driving long distances
  • reading for an extended period
  • bright light
  • dim light
  • stress
  • fatigue
  • exposure to circulating dry air
  • underlying eye problems

Common symptoms

Besides the symptoms already mentioned (dry and tired eyes), common symptoms of eye strain may include:

  • sore, burning or itchy eyes
  • watery eyes
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • headache
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • sore neck, shoulders and/or back

Avoid eye strain

Here are a few tips on how you can avoid eye strain:

  1. Remember to blink
    Blinking helps to keep your eyes moist. We tend to blink less while we’re staring at a screen or focusing intently on a task. If your eyes start to feel dry, close your eyes tightly for three seconds. Then, open your eyes wide and blink normally a few times. Repeat this process for one minute.
  2. Shift your focus
    Hold your finger about 15cm away from your face and focus on it. Slowly move your finger away, but still focus on it. Look away from your finger into the distance for a few seconds and then back at your finger. Slowly bring your finger towards your face again. Repeat this exercise at least three times.
  3. Figure eight
    This simple exercise should help to keep your eye muscles flexible. While seated, pick a point on the floor on a blank wall about 3m away. Trace a large 8, lying on its side, with your eyes. Do not move your head. Do this for 30 seconds and then repeat for another 30 seconds in the opposite direction.
  4. Flex
    This exercise should help to stretch and strengthen your eye muscles. Look straight ahead while facing forward. Without moving your head, look up and then down. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Thereafter, look from left to right and back again without moving your head. Also repeat this exercise 10 times.
  5. Step away
    If you work on a computer all day, step away from your screen for 10 minutes every 50 minutes to rest your eyes. It’s also very important to get enough sleep every night to give your eyes a good, long rest.
  6. Adjust your screen
    If possible, apply the blue light filter on your device to minimise glare and make sure that there is a good contrast between your background and text that you need to read. Also make sure that your screen is at a good reading distance and tilted at an angle that does not make you strain your eyes to view it clearly.
  7. Use an app
    There are apps available that will remind you to blink, change focus and even step away from your screen to give your eyes a break. Look for relevant apps to avoid eye strain in your app store.

Doctor knows best

If you continue to suffer from eye strain or suspect that there may be another health issue involved, please do not hesitate to visit your optometrist or family practitioner, depending on your health concern. Bestmed has an extensive network of more than 16 500 healthcare professionals countrywide.

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