lifestyle

Simple exercises to prevent digital eyestrain – that you can do at your desk


Eyestrain can cause headaches and difficulty concentrating (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

We all spend too much time looking at screens.

We tend to cycle between our phones, our laptops or work computers, and our TV, before repeating the cycle the next day.

And it’s having an impact on our eye health.

Although using a computer will not harm your eyes, staring at a screen all day will contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes.

Eyestrain or eye fatigue is a common condition that can cause sore eyes, blurry vision, headaches and difficulty concentrating. It’s a common condition and, while usually not serious, it is really annoying.

With our screen time always on the increase, it is important we take steps to protect our vision, and reduce these unpleasant symptoms. Eye yoga could be just what you need. 

Vision care experts Lenstore have partnered with holistic therapist, yoga, and meditation teacher Phoebe Greenacre to reveal five easy exercises you can try to help reduce eyestrain and eye fatigue:

‘Eyestrain can be as a result of many things,’ says Phoebe. ‘Whether that be tiredness or stress, so eye yoga could potentially support in two ways; firstly by stimulating and strengthening the muscles that move your eyes, as well as also taking time for yourself to relax and de-stress.’

Palming

  • Rub your hands together vigorously for 10 seconds to create heat and energy between the palms. 
  • Gently place your palms over your eyes and close your eyes. Take a few deep inhalations and longer exhalations as you start to relax. 
  • Feel the warmth and darkness start to slowly soothe and melt away any tension in the back of your eyes. 
  • Allow your hands to rest there until the warmth slowly disappears.



Symptoms of eyestrain

Eyestrain signs and symptoms include:

  • Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open

Blinking

‘If you find yourself staring at a screen for too long, this can have an impact on how often you’re blinking, and if you are blinking less, this can lead to dry eyes,’ says Phoebe. 

‘This is probably the most straightforward exercise out of all five exercises. In fact, taking a moment to blink repeatedly can help release your eyes from dryness, overuse and any discomfort you may be experiencing.’

  • Sit or stand straight. Keep your shoulders relaxed, neck straight, and look ahead.
  • Blink your eyes very fast for 10-15 seconds.
  • Gently allow your eyes to close, settle, and soften.
  • Notice how the eyes feel. Try to repeat once at least every hour.

Zooming

‘This is a great eye exercise when attempting to focus and strengthen your eye muscles,’ says Phoebe. ‘Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Focus on an object in the distance and stay there for a few seconds.
  • Move your focus onto an object closer to you and gaze at it for a few seconds.
  • Move your focus to something close to you like your thumb.
  • Reverse the gaze – first back to the middle object, then the far-away object.
  • Repeat this exercise several times over a two-minute period.

Figure of eight

Phoebe says this exercise allows for purposeful movements – which she says can help to calm your body down.

‘This in turn helps reduce tension, which can have a positive effect on anxiety and headaches, which can aggravate optical conditions,’ she adds. ‘This should be done from a seated position – here is how:

  • Raise your hand in front of you at eye level.
  • Extend your thumb and focus on it.
  • Start to move your arm (keeping it straight) in a figure of eight shape.
  • Keep tracing for 30 seconds, then switch directions.

Eye rolling

‘Eye rolling is a very effective exercise when done regularly,’ Phoebe explains. ‘It can help strengthen the eye muscles and enhance the shape of your eyes.’

  • Sit or stand straight. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and neck straight, and look ahead.
  • Look to your right and then slowly roll your eyes up towards the ceiling.
  • Roll your eyes down to your left, and from there down towards the floor.
  • Do this in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

Phoebe admits that there is more to be done in terms of scientifically proving the health benefits of eye yoga, but practicing these movements on a regular basis could still be beneficial for dry eyes and eyestrain.

‘However, if you are experiencing these symptoms from staring at your tech devices, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a moment to step away from them,’ she suggests.

‘Although not an eye yoga exercise, we always encourage people to remember the 20:20:20 rule as well.

‘This means, for every 20 minutes you’ve spent looking at a screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something that is 20 feet away – but there’s certainly no harm in following up with some eye rolling and zooming as well.’

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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