Our lives revolve around digital devices, we shop on our phones, work on our computers, sit in a room full of led lights, meet new people through social media, communicate via emails or texts – all through a screen! And we fail to realize that such high exposure can lead to intense eye damage. This is because the blue light produced by these devices has a wavelength of 380 nm to 500 nm, (which means it is one of the shortest, highest energy wavelengths) and can cause age-related degeneration and dry eyes. A few symptoms of dry eyes include blurry vision, burning, irritation, heavy or tired eyes, itchiness, eye strain, double vision, headaches, and even eyes tearing up – a reflex response to the dryness. These can worsen over time if not treated or cared for early on.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 American adults (45 and above) suffer from some kind of eye problems, and the risks associated with loss of vision keeps increasing with age. Neglecting eye care not only affects finances (with costly treatments) but also the quality of life. The way we perceive the world and the environment around us depends largely on our sense of vision. Thus, it is imperative to keep our eyes healthy, just like it’s essential to keep our bodies in healthy.
Here are a few tips to keep those twinkly eyes protected!
- 1. Maintain distance between your eyes and the screen – Your monitor or phone should always be slightly below the eye level and at a distance of 20-28 inches from your face. This will help limit the reach of blue light rays to your eyes.
- 2. Reduce the glare – Glass screens reflect the surrounding light that may affect the eye and cause unnecessary strain. Adjusting the lighting around you or using a matte (anti-glare) screen softens the pressure on the eye caused by bright lights. You can also reduce the brightness and contrast of your screen and increase the font for a more comfortable read.
- 3. 20-20-20 – Take a break and rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is the 20-20-20 rule you must follow to keep your eyes healthy and protected.
- 4. Limit screen time – As enjoyable and recreational our devices can be, when you are not working, reduce the use of your phone, laptop, or tablet and let your eyes rest. This will help in reducing eye fatigue as well as muscle strain.
- 5. Avoid using your devices before bedtime – Blue light is the same component that is released from the sun in the form of UV radiation. In safe moderation, this blue light, during the day, wakes us up and stimulates us. However, blue light exposure at night from phones and other devices may disturb your sleeping pattern, making it difficult for you to get a good night’s rest. This may further lead to insomnia as well as eye fatigue. Thus, it is recommended to reduce screen time a couple of hours before you sleep or switch the device to night-mode to minimize the blue light exposure. You can also download a blue light filter app to reduce glare.
- 6. Avoid rubbing your eyes – Rubbing eyes is one of the most common unhealthy habits that almost each one of us follows. While the eyes feel itchy, it is natural for us to rub them to feel better. However, your hands are covered with a host of germs that may lead to eye infections. So, it is often suggested to blink frequently and keep your eyes moist to avoid the itchiness.
- 7. Wash your hands – If you are unable to get rid of the habit of rubbing your eyes, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly and clean them frequently. This is especially imperative for those who wear contact lenses. You must keep your lenses as well as your hands clean to keep your eyes healthy and disease-free.
- 8. Healthy diet and supplements – Your diet should include plenty of fresh fruits (especially citrus fruits) and green leafy vegetables along with fish, nuts, eggs, and other protein sources. Dietary supplements also provide the necessary antioxidant and nourishment required to protect and keep your eyes healthy in the long run.
Eye exercises and relaxation techniques
Along with taking precautionary measures mentioned, you can also incorporate a good eye exercise routine daily. Here are a few eye exercises that will comfort your eyes from the digital strain.
- 1. Focus change (zooming) – This exercise will help strengthen your eye muscles. To do this,
- -Hold a pencil or your finger a few inches away from your eyes
- -Focus on the object for a few seconds
- -Now slowly move the object away from your face, holding your focus
- -Look away for a moment, into the distance
- -Then bring back the object toward your eye until it is 3 inches away
- -Keep the focus on the object the whole time
- -Repeat this for two to five minutes
- 2. Near and far – This is another focus exercise that should be performed sitting down, keeping your back straight.
- -Hold up a pencil (or your finger) a few inches away from your eyes
- -Focus on the pencil for a few seconds
- -Now find an object about 10-20 feet away and focus on it for a few seconds
- -Bring your focus back to the pencil again
- -Repeat this exercise four to five times
- 3. Eye roll – the eye roll alleviates eye strain and strengthens your eye muscles. Be sure to sit up straight and away from the screen while performing this exercise.
- -Look to your right without turning your face.
- -Now slowly roll your eyeballs towards the sky.
- -Then roll them down to the left and further towards the ground.
- -Repeat in the opposite direction.
- -Do this exercise 10 times one way, and be sure to take your time and not rush.
- Palming – This exercise helps in relieving stress around the eyes.
- -Lean forward on a desk and place your elbows on the table.
- -Rub your palms together to create a bit of warmth.
- -Close your eyes and cup your palms, placing them over the eyes.
- -Your fingers should be on your forehead, and the heel of your hand should rest on your cheekbone.
- -Don’t put pressure on your eyes. Make sure you blink freely.
- -Relax and repeat this exercise thrice a day.
- -Palming rests your eyes and mind for a few minutes and can prove to be beneficial for your mental health too.
- Blinking – As insignificant and straightforward as this exercise sounds, blinking helps keep your eyes moist. One of the leading causes of dry eyes is the fact that we forget to blink while focusing on the screen. Blinking produces moisture in your eyes, keeping them clean and fresh. Follow the 20-20-20 rule as much as possible and perform this exercise.
- -Set a timer for two minutes
- -Blink every four seconds
While digital devices help us in our daily living, make sure that they don’t harm your vision. Your eyes are unique! So, take charge of your eyes and care for them