Using the best eye exercises, taking breaks, and following a proper diet are all crucial when it comes to the long-term health of your eyes. There’s no one exercise that can improve your eyesight, relieve swollen eyes after crying, or cure a serious eye condition or common eye disorder, however, the ocular muscles can benefit from regular exercises, especially if you have a job that requires almost perfect eyesight, or one that can easily cause eye strain, dry eyes, eye pain and headache or other mild to severe eye issues.
Most adults will begin to develop vision problems in their mid to late forties, especially if they work on computers and/or do a lot of reading at work. The most common vision challenge for people between the ages of forty and sixty is farsightedness. Fortunately, your vision will most likely improve if your optometrist prescribes contact lenses or glasses. However, if you have a job that involves computer use, you may also experience ongoing issues with eye strain, fatigue, and irritation. Do you know how to relieve watery eyes, or how to refresh eyes that are sore and strained?
Regularly exercising the eyes can help to keep the muscle inside the eyes and the surrounding muscles strong, allowing you to use your computer for a longer period of time without experiencing many of the symptoms associated with eye strain such as blurred vision, redness, dryness, and eye pain.
The Leading Causes of Eye Strain in the Workplace
You may not think exercising the eyes are necessary, especially when you’re busy at work, but regular exercises can help to prevent eye strain and irritation. If you’re stuck behind a desk all day at work, then your eyes may feel irritated and tired after spending several hours focusing on a computer screen or reading documents.
Eye strain is a common condition and unfortunately, it’s become even more frequent thanks to smartphones, tablets, and PCs, all of which have become a common fixture both at work and at home. Usually, eye strain can be treated using noninvasive, simple methods. However, prolonged eye strain or irritation can be an indication that something more serious is going on.
Eye strain can occur after focusing on one specific task for too long. Computer use is one of the leading causes. Other common causes of eye strain include:
- Increased stress
- Working in an inadequately lit environment
- Dry eyes
- Failing to blink often
- Using poor posture when using a computer
- Exposure to blue light for an extended period of time
- Holding a digital device too close to your face
What Are the Signs of Eye Strain?
The term eye strain is used to describe several symptoms that can occur when a person places too much stress on the eyes. Symptoms can include:
- Blurred vision
- Red eyes
- Pressure in the eyes
While eye strain can be uncomfortable and can even prevent you from getting your work done, it’s usually not considered a serious condition. In some cases, the signs and symptoms can indicate common eye disorders or a more serious underlying condition. However, if you’re frequently dealing with eye strain, fatigue, pain, and discomfort, to the point that it’s preventing you from getting your job done, then trying eye exercises one to three times a day can be just what you need to strengthen your eyes and avoid a dip in your performance at work. Many of these exercises will take only a few minutes to complete and can have a big impact on tired and sore eyes. These exercises can be done right at your desk, or at break time and can leave your eyes feeling stronger and more refreshed, especially after spending several hours staring at a computer or working in harsh lighting conditions.
Who Can Benefit from Regular Eye Exercises?
Did you know that the average person spends around ten hours a day staring at some type of electronic screen, whether it’s a tablet, PC, or smartphone? Focusing on reading illuminated small text for a long period of time can cause eye discomfort and strain, which can be detrimental to a person’s vision.
Most people who work at a computer all day long, such as an accountant, a loan officer, or any type of position that relies heavily on computer use, can result in the development of computer vision syndrome, also known as CVS. This condition refers to the different types of eye strain a person can develop from prolonged computer or screen use. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
Each day, accidents can happen in the workplace that can put a person’s vision at risk. Unfortunately, eye injuries are much more common than you think. However, with the right knowledge, you can easily safeguard your vision. Below you’ll find the professions that can cause severe eye issues over time, if you fail to take care of your eye health by exercising and strengthening your ocular muscles.
Many professionals will experience vision issues in the workplace. This can include people who work indoors and outdoors. light conditions or digital device use are usually the culprits. Below, I’ll go over the different professions that are often affected by eye strain related issues and the different types of exercises and relaxation techniques you can use that can immediately have a positive impact on your vision.
Welding is an intense and challenging job, both mentally and physically. Did you know that welding can also be very hard on the eyes? Considered a dangerous job, twenty-five percent of welding injuries that occur each year are actually eye-related. This is because the welder is forced to stare at a bright light for an extended period of time. Of course, most welders will wear a welding helmet, which is designed to protect their eyes and prevent burn injuries. However, most welders can admit that they don’t always wear their welding hood when they should, while others claim that their eyes still suffer a significant amount of strain even if they do follow the proper safety precautions.
Aside from eye strain, chronic headaches, and facial pain, many welders have also reported injuries that are caused by radiation and chemical burn. Because of this, it’s important that the welder wear the appropriate safety gear at all times.
However, eye strain and other vision-related issues such as redness and irritation, still occur. Which is why welders should practice the following exercises to increase ocular muscle strength to keep their vision sharp for work and prevent any complications later down the road.
The next time you’re struggling to get through the day and battling eye strain and fatigue, try out the following exercises:
The Eye Flex
Just like you need to flex any other muscles in order to strengthen them and relieve tension, you can do the same for the muscles surrounding the eyes. Start off by sitting in a chair and looking straight ahead. Now, try looking up and down without moving your neck. Do this ten times in a row before you look to the right while keeping the neck straight. Next, look to the left ten times in a row. Try five sets of ten reps.
If you’re experiencing eye fatigue try this focusing exercise. Sit approximately six feet away from a window and look straight ahead, keeping the shoulders relaxed. Extend the left arm in front of you while keeping the thumb out. Focus on the tip of your thumb for five seconds. Next, with your arm and thumb still extended, focus on the window for three seconds. Now, look out the window and search for an object in the distance that you can focus on for three seconds. Finally, move back to focusing on the thumb. Repeat this exercise for two minutes.
This exercise can be done lying down, standing, or sitting. Begin by looking straight ahead, keeping the eyes closed or open. Move the eyes up and down quickly. Repeat this twelve times before you stop and rest your eyes for six seconds. Repeat this exercise for sixty seconds.
These days, you’re probably well aware that most professions require the use of a computer. This can cause extreme eye strain. As I briefly touched on earlier, a condition known as computer vision syndrome affects millions of people all over the world and it’s classified the same as carpal tunnel syndrome, in addition to any other type of injury that a person can be exposed to due to repetitive motions on the job. This is because the eyes must follow the same movements over and over. Working on a computer will usually mean that the eyes must constantly focus and refocus. This is usually seen with actions of looking up and down to type or the eyes moving back and forth when reading or typing. The eyes will also react to any type of image change.
Computer desk jobs often require extreme effort from the ocular muscles. Eye health may even get worse due to a screen that flickers, or if added glare is present. It’s also possible to develop severe eye problems if you have a computer job and don’t wear glasses even though you’ve been diagnosed with a vision problem.
As you grow older, this type of work will continue to become even harder because the lenses in the eyes are not as flexible. People in their mid-forties will struggle with the ability to focus on near and far objects.
If you don’t take charge and focus on improving your eye health by seeing an eye specialist once or twice a year and practicing eye exercises daily, it can lead to a poor performance at work, increased vision pain, and a whole new slew of symptoms that can be hard to manage if you’re using a computer for more than four or five hours a day.
While complaints of eye discomfort, strain, and fatigue are very common among computer users in the workplace, these symptoms aren’t caused by the screen itself. A PC gives off little to no harmful radiation. In fact, the levels of radiation from a PC are below the levels that can cause damage to the eyes and speed up the progression of cataracts.
Digital screens expose the eyes to blue light. However, while this type of exposure is small compared to the type of exposure you’ll get from the bright rays of the sun, there’s still some concern regarding the long-term effects. This is due to the length of time that’s spent looking at the screen and the close proximity of the screen as well.
The exercises below can help to leave your eyes feeling refreshed, while helping to reduce pain, pressure, and dryness.
Warming Up Your Eyes
Before you dive into these important exercises, try warming up first. Warming up is important prior to any type of exercises. For your eyes, begin by rubbing the palms of your hands together in order to produce some heat. Next, you’ll place the palms of your hands over your eyes for ten seconds. Next, begin by rolling the eyes clockwise, slowly, then switch to moving them counterclockwise. This should be done five times in each direction.
Once your eyes are warmed up, you’ll begin focusing. Begin by focusing on an object in the distance. Once you’re able to see it clearly, switch to an object that’s much closer. Repeat this process six times. Next, choose a single object somewhere in the middle and stare at it for a period of one to three minutes. The goal here is to set up a pattern for the eyes to follow in a methodical manner. You should never lose focus as you stare at each object. Once you’re done, shut your eyes for a few minutes to give them a chance to relax.
Individual Eye Training
Your eyes should also be trained individually in order to strengthen each one more effectively. Begin by closing one eye and search for an object in the distance, focusing on it until it becomes clear. Once it’s perfectly in your sights, try focusing on an object that’s slightly farther away. Once it’s clearly focused for you, shoot for an object that’s a little farther. Keep trying to focus on objects that are further away each time for a total of six times. You should stop as soon as you begin to feel any type of discomfort or eye strain. This exercise will help to gradually strengthen the ocular muscles. However, pace yourself. Overdoing it can be an easy way to worsen your current vision problems and can result in a headache or feeling lightheaded.
Write With Your Eyes
In order to improve eye muscle control use your eyes to write on the wall. Begin by sitting in a chair that’s placed several feet from a wall. Now, use your eyes to write something on the wall. Avoid moving your head. Instead, you’ll want to trace the shapes of symbols, numbers, or letters using only your eyes. The bigger you make the letters or numbers, the more the motion will feel controlled. This type of control equals stronger ocular muscles.
Inventory and Order Fulfillment Jobs
The use of handheld digital devices and computers will help brick and mortar and online retailers to keep track of their inventory through staging areas and warehouses and on the sales floor. A cashier will scan a bar code while using a computerized point of sale system. These jobs essentially require the worker to use a computer throughout the duration of their shift, which means their eyes are constantly at risk of strain, dry eyes, and irritation.
Other job titles that fall under this category include:
- Postal clerk
- Delivery driver
- Inventory manager
- Shipping clerk
- Supply manager
Aside from taking adequate breaks from a digital screen, the following exercises can help to reduce eye strain, pain, and irritation:
Roll the Eyes
Rolling your eyes is actually a very effective exercise, especially if you do it regularly. The goal is to help strengthen the eye muscles, gently. You can do this simple exercise right at your desk. Think of it as giving the eyes a nice stretch. Start by looking ahead, with the neck straight and your shoulders relaxed. Look to your left and slowly roll your eyes toward the ceiling. Next, you’ll roll the eyes down to the right and then down towards the floor. Do this for three minutes in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Shoot for two sets, with ten reps each.
This exercise will quickly become your favorite since it tends to have an immediate relaxing effect. You can also do this exercise while wearing contact lenses. This exercise should be done whenever you begin to notice the signs of eye strain and you’re in need of a fast and effective way to refresh your eyes.
This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Start by warming up the palms of your hands by rubbing them together for one minute. Place them over your eyes and feel the warmth. Repeat this simple exercise three times. This exercise can be performed several times throughout the day. You’ll be surprised by how immediately relaxed and refreshed your eyes feel.
Bookkeeping and Accounting
In the accounting world, computer software has basically changed the role and job duties of the traditional auditor and accountant who would analyze the ledgers for a variety of internal accounts, which would then be transferred over to a general ledger. These days, a computer will allow one accounting firm to manage the financial books for all of their clients while also providing the firm with the opportunity to easily keep track of its revenue by employing a bookkeeper. Both accountants and bookkeepers are necessary for private and public sectors.
Other positions that can share similar duties include:
- Loan officers
- Financial analysts
- Chief financial officers
- Credit analysts
- Payroll supervisors
As you can imagine, staring at the financial information of hundreds of clients for eight to ten hours a day can really take a toll on the eyes. Below the following exercises can help with strengthening the ocular muscles and can also provide immediate relief for eyes that are strained and sore:
This eye exercise can help to strengthen and relax the muscles around the eyes. It’s often prescribed by doctors for people with weak eye muscles. This exercise should be done when sitting down. Look straight ahead, keeping the neck straight and the shoulders relaxed. Hold a pencil in your left hand, holding it directly in front of your nose. Focus on the tip of the pencil. Now, extend your arm fully, then bring your arm back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise switching hands each time, for a period of two to three minutes.
If you’re beginning to feel the signs of eye strain, this next exercise will be exactly what you need to provide some instant relief to the eyes and leave them feeling stronger and more refreshed. sit with your eyes closed and inhale deeply. Place one finger on each of the eyelids and lightly press on them for fifteen seconds. Next, you’ll release the pressure for three seconds before pressing on the eyelids again for another fifteen seconds.
A Gentle Massage
At the end of a long day, if you’re already dealing with eye strain, pressure, and tension, try giving yourself an eye massage. This can help to relax the muscle in the eye and the surrounding muscles. This exercise will help to reduce dryness and the symptoms associated with eye strain. It can even provide relief if you’ve been dealing with eye allergies or other types of chronic conditions such as blepharitis. Start by sitting up straight in a chair with the shoulders kept in a relaxed position. Next, tilt your head back while keeping the eyes closed. Place your middle finger and index finger on each eyelid. Move the left fingers in a counterclockwise direction and your right fingers in a clockwise direction. Repeat this ten times before you change the direction of the circular motion. Try a total of three sets of ten reps.
When you’re constantly staring at a computer it can easily lead to fatigue and mental exhaustion. The following simple exercise can easily solve this problem and prevent further strain. Sitting up straight, with your shoulders relaxed, stare at a blank wall. Next, close and open your eyes slowly. Keep your eyes closed for two to three seconds before opening them. Do this for two minutes.
Drafting and Design Jobs
A career working in the arts requires the use of computers. Even a writer will create their stories using word processing software, while a magazine and newspaper design requires the skills of graphic artists who must use a computer for drafting. A photographer will rely on their digital camera and will also use special software to edit their images and prints. A movie is filmed digitally and is then edited on a computer. Some artists will exclusively create their works of art using creative software programs. Really, computers are used for almost every career these days, on some level.
Additionally, interior designers, architects, and engineers with use computer-aided design programs and computers in order to expedite designs of interior spaces, cities, and buildings. Other positions that require the drafting of materials or documents such as a career working as a paralegal or lawyer, will also require the use of a computer.
But as you can imagine, you’ll need to pay extra close attention to every fine detail and because of this, the eyes can really suffer. But not only is eye health important, better than average vision is crucial.
The following eye exercises can help to keep your eyes healthy, comfortable, and able to catch even the tiniest details in your work:
One of the biggest reasons people develop dry eyes, redness and irritation, and CVS is due to lack of blinking. When you stare at a computer screen you subconsciously blink less often than you normally would because you’re trying to remain focused. But blinking is important since it’s responsible for keeping the eyes moisturized with the oil that’s produced by the glands and your natural tears. During work, try to create the habit of blinking as often as possible, such as every time you get up to take a bathroom break or refill your coffee mug. Blinking more is crucial to maintaining stable, healthy, and clear vision. It can also gently strengthen the muscles around the eyes and may even instantly relieve any pressure you feel beginning to build inside the eyes.
Online marketplaces, web content, and social media created a whole new range of professions that are focused on interacting with consumers. From social media managers, SEO experts, and digital ad buyers, all of these positions require the use of smart devices and computers to engage their client base online. Many of these positions also require the use of online programs and software in order to manage their data including conversions and web traffic. Computers are also essential for building websites and designing software programs. All of these professions will put you at an increased risk of CVS. So, how can you prevent eye strain, CVS, migraines and other eye health-related conditions that can develop due to constant computer use? Try the exercises below to boost your eye health and give your eyes the type of instant relief they need throughout the day:
The Twenty Rule
When a person works on a computer, their eyes will usually struggle to stay focused for an extended period of time. In order to prevent eye strain for these positions, the twenty rule is a great technique to use that can keep your eyes feeling fresh and comfortable. To do, every twenty minutes take twenty seconds to stare at an object that’s twenty feet away from where you’re sitting. This will help to strengthen the eyes by giving them a chance to recoup and recover by allowing them to shift their focus a few times an hour.
For this exercise, all you’ll need is a chair and a blank wall to stare at. Imagine a large figure eight on the ceiling or wall. Now, trace this design with your eyes, keeping the head still. Do this for a total of six times.
This exercise will give the eye muscles a nice stretch and can help to soothe strained and fatigued eyes. To do, stand and inhale deeply. Look to your right as much as you can using only your eyes. Your head should remain still. Hold your gaze for three seconds before turning to the left and holding your gaze for another three seconds. Repeat this exercise for two minutes.
What Else Can I Do To Naturally Strengthen My Vision?
Did you know that almost two-thirds of Americans are bothered by lighting at some point in the day? This includes bright computer screens, environmental lighting, and even the lighting in the home. The lights in your day to day life can cause damage to your vision with prolonged exposure. However, changing or adjusting the light whenever possible can do wonders to protect your vision.
Eye specialists recommend following a diet that’s high in carrots, leafy greens, and omega-three fatty acids, all of which will provide your eyes with the types of nutrients they need in order to remain strong. Omega threes can be found in fatty fish sources including tuna, and salmon. They can also be found in seeds and nuts. Leafy green veggies contain carotenoids including zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which are crucial to retina health. Carrots are a great source of beta carotene which is what the body will use to produce vitamin A. This vitamin is also crucial for vision health.
It may sound obvious, but rest can actually be one of the best ways to strengthen the muscles around the eyes. And just like the other muscles in the body, the muscles that surround the eyes will really benefit from an occasional break. Whenever possible trying resting the eyes at least five to ten minutes once an hour, for each hour you’re spending on a computer or staring at some type of digital screen. Also, a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night can give your eyes the type of rest they need for rest and recovery.
Use Hot or Cold Compresses for Fast Relief
A cold or hot compress can feel pretty amazing after a long day at work. But have you ever tried using both heat and cold? To do, have one bowl of cold water ready and one bowl of hot water. Dip a washcloth in the hot water first and place the compress over the eyes. Allow the washcloth to remain in place for thirty seconds to one minute before you remove it and switch to a cold compress for the same length of time. Repeat as many times in a row as you need. This nice home treatment can feel very soothing on strained sore eyes and can instantly relieve pressure, pain, and mild inflammation. If you’re dealing with eye pain that’s accompanied by discharge and swelling, then you can also benefit from hot and cold compress use. If you’re currently suffering a cold and experiencing an increase in eye discomfort, then you may be dealing with a more serious condition such as an infection. To learn more, click here to read my article on can a cold cause eye discharge.
Will Exercising the Eyes Really Help?
Yes, you can make muscles stronger by working out, but the eyes themselves aren’t muscles. However, they are controlled by them. Each eye has a total of six muscles located on the outside. These six muscles are what control a person’s line of sight. There is also one muscle inside the eye which moves a person’s focus in and out. This muscle is called the ciliary and it’s the muscle that most eye exercises will target. The exercises that are suggested here will help to relax and strengthen this muscle.
However, vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness are refractive errors. This occurs when light is not able to reach the right path inside the retina because the eyeball is not the correct shape. When you exercise the muscles around and in the eye it doesn’t do anything to fix this type of issue. If you’re suffering from farsightedness or nearsightedness, visit an eye care specialist regularly and replace old glasses and contacts as directed. If you develop an eye allergy or a condition such as pink eye or styes, don’t try to self-treat the condition. Instead, make an appointment with your physician. These exercises are not supposed to reverse any type of serious vision problem, however, they can help in cases in which you’re dealing with chronic dry eye, eye strain, irritation, and redness.
These exercises are perfectly safe to do. While these exercises can’t correct vision problems or have any positive effect on how you see, they also won’t cause any negative issues. Instead, they can help to simply strengthen eyes that are weakened by computer use, digital screen use, and improve eye strength for eyes that are negatively affected by harsh lighting whether you work indoors or outdoors.
How to Prevent Eye Strain at Work
At home and at work we find ourselves using a screen for pretty much everything from creating spreadsheets to making grocery lists. If your eyes feel tired, dry, and your vision is blurred at the end of a long day, your computer may be to blame.
But if you change how you use your computer, tablet, and smartphone at work, you can help to prevent eye strain.
A person typically blinks approximately twenty times a minute. Doing so allows the eyes to evenly spread out the tears, which is what prevents irritation and dryness. However, researchers have found that a person often blinks much less when they’re writing, watching, or reading a screen. Additionally, the contrast of the text against the flickering, glare, and background can be very hard on the eyes.
While it can be difficult to cut out screen time when you’re at work, there are some changes you can make that can make these devices much easier on your eyes.
Setting Up Your Work Space
- At work, make sure your computer is placed around twenty-four inches from your face. This is about arm’s length. The center of the computer screen should be around fifteen degrees below eye level. You may need to do some rearranging in your cubicle or office to declutter and make enough space to move your PC further away from you while you work.
- You can also cut down on the amount of glare you have to deal with by using a matte screen filter. These can be used for all types of digital devices including your PC, tablet, and phone.
- Taking longer computer breaks at work can also help, as can using the best eye drops to help relieve dryness and irritation. If you have your own office you can also try using a humidifier, which can help to cut down on eye dryness.
- If you normally wear contacts to the office, try wearing glasses at least once or twice a week to cut down on irritation.
- To minimize flickering increase your PC’s refresh rate.
- Change the brightness of the screen. It shouldn’t be lighter or darker than your surroundings.
These exercises are easy to do and simple to remember. They can be done on the job or at home after a long day at the office. Because they can be done in just a matter of a few minutes, stop making excuses and make sure you do these important exercises several times a day at work or at home before you watch TV.
Remember, creating a workout for your eyes and using the best eye exercises can help to improve their strength and keep them healthy, however, it’s not going to fix any type of serious physical problems such as glaucoma or astigmatism, or when it comes to vision problems such as hyperopia or myopia. In cases such as these, a visit to an eye care specialist may be the best option.