Your eyes are your window to the world. Purely for this reason alone, it is essential you take good care of them. However, most of us tend to take this gift of vision for granted by disregarding the need to shield our delicate eyes from damage.
We are increasingly becoming a digital generation with most of our waking hours spent in front of an LED screen, whether it be computers at work or TV and smartphones at leisurely hours. The surge in social media has further contributed towards making us slaves to these portable digital devices.
As you strain to read the miniature text on your LED screen, your eyes work doubly hard to make the words legible. The same holds true for avid bibliophiles who keep ticking book after book off their checklist, often at the expense of their vision.
Reading fine print makes huge demands of your eyes and leaves them overworked and fatigued. Something as simple as trying to see in the dark is also a visually intensive task that can contribute to this problem without you even realizing it.
All these culpable factors inadvertently tense the muscles of the eyelids, face, temples, and jaws. Repeated overuse of these muscles is what paves the way for further ocular distress.
How Do People Usually Strain Their Eyes?
Eye strain is a common complaint that occurs for a variety of reasons, and it is not exclusive to adults. Some of the common causes of eye strain include:
- Lack of sleep
- Staring at digital devices such as a computer, gaming console, video monitor, and smartphones for long stretches of time and at a close range
- Not blinking enough during visually extensive and intensive tasks can dry out your eyes
- Extensive exposure to blue-light emission from digital screens
- Reading in dim light for an extended period of time without breaks
- Incorrect vision prescription
- Exposure to bright light
- Underlying eye problems(1)
Common Discomforts Associated with Strained Eyes
Eye strain can produce quite a bit of discomfort. Symptoms associated with eyestrain are:
- Redness or irritation
- Difficulty focusing
- Dry or watery eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back(2)
Symptoms typically do not occur in the morning, but they appear when you do something that will cause the eyes to strain in order to focus.
Although there are many over-the-counter eye drops and medicines that can offer help, you can go the natural way as well. To that end, there are some simple remedies that can effectively comfort your tired eyes.
Preventing Eye Strain
- For every 20 minutes that you spend near a screen, stare at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.(8)
- If you work on computers for long periods of time, use special software that reminds you to take regular breaks, such as Eye Leo, Eye Rave, and others.
- Place your computer and laptop screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little below eye level.
- Avoid using excessive eye cosmetics during eye strain.
- Wear sunglasses when going out in the sun during the day.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
- To help prevent dry eyes while working indoors, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Get enough sleep as sleep deprivation can contribute to more frequent eye strain.
- Blink often to keep the eyes moist and healthy.
- Follow a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Consider taking vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements for overall eye health.
- Drink plenty of water to help reduce eye strain.
- Get your eyes checked regularly by a specialist to make sure your eyes are healthy.
Tips and Remedies to Get Relief from Eye Strain
Here are some ways to reduce eye strain.
1. Cold Water will Relieve Discomfort
You don’t have to have a medical degree to know that splashing your eyes with cold water is the go-to cure for relieving mild eye strain and irritation. The mechanism at work here is that cold water helps improve circulation, relax tired muscles around your eyes, and reduce eye swelling and puffiness.
Although there aren’t any full-blown studies to scientifically establish these claims, the fact that rinsing your eyes with cold water has become an instantaneous response to any kind of eye irritation should stand to testify its merits.
- Splash cold water on your face and closed eyes when your eyes feel strained or tired. It will have a quick relaxing impact on your eyes.
- For a more concentrated remedy, dip a soft washcloth in cold water and wring out the extra moisture. Place the cold washcloth on your closed eyelids for 1 minute. Repeat as needed.
- If you have puffiness along with strained eyes, use a cold compress. Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth. Place it on your closed eyelids. The puffiness will decrease after 5 to 10 minutes of application.
2. Try Palming Technique
Palming is a great technique to relax strained eyes, especially in the midst of reading or when viewing your desktop, laptop, or television screen. The main goal of palming is to create a restful state for your eyes so they do not become tired.
- Sit up straight in a comfortable position.
- Warm your hands by rubbing them together rapidly.
- Close your eyes and place your warm palms over them, without applying pressure on the eyelids.
- Relax and enjoy the darkness for about 30 seconds.
- Slowly open your eyes and look around.
- Repeat the process three to five times per sitting.
- Follow this technique frequently throughout the day.
3. Ease Pain with Eye Massage
To reduce eye strain, gently massage your eyelids daily. It will improve circulation to the eyes and relax the muscles that surround your eyes. It will also stimulate the tear glands, which will help prevent dry eyes.
- Use your fingers to gently massage your eyelids and muscles above the eyebrows for about 10 to 20 seconds.
- Gently massage your lower eyelid against the lower bone for about 10 to 20 seconds.
- Massage the temple and upper cheekbones also.
- You can do this massage one or two times daily.
4. Reap the Benefits of Cucumber
- Cool a medium-sized cucumber in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Cut it into thick slices and put them on your tired eyes.
- Follow this remedy one or two times daily.
This remedy can also be done with potato.
5. Relax Your Eyes with Warm Compress
A warm compress is another way to reduce eye strain. It relaxes the muscles around your eyes, reduces strain, and soothes dry eyes. It is also effective in reducing the pain and swelling of a stye.(5)
- Dip a clean, soft cloth in warm water and wring out the excess moisture.
- Lie down comfortably, close your eyes, and place the warm cloth over your eyelids.
- Relax and breathe slowly for 1 minute.
- Repeat the process three or four times.
- Follow this treatment one or two times daily.
- You can also add 2-3 drops of menthol on the compress for a soothing effect.
6. Do Eye Exercises
Regular eye exercises can alleviate eye strain. These exercises improve blood circulation to the eyes, make the eye muscles more flexible, and improve your focus and concentration.(4)
- Hold a pen or pencil at an arm’s length and focus on it. Slowly bring the object closer to your eyes for as long as you can focus on it clearly. Then, move the object farther from your vision. Repeat this 10 to 15 times.
- Roll your eyes in clockwise and counterclockwise directions for a few seconds. Take a break and blink your eyes. Repeat this four or five times consecutively. Do this exercise every few hours.
Perform these eye exercises daily to prevent eye strain and improve your eyesight.
7. Sunning can be Beneficial
Sunning is another beneficial technique to relax strained and tired eyes. The vital life energies of the sun are good for your eyes. Sunning also helps your body produce vitamin D, which is important for your overall health.(3) To avoid sunburn, do your sunning between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
- Stand in a sunny place in the early morning.
- Close your eyes and allow the sunlight to fall on your eyelids.
- Feel the warmth on your eyes and slowly move your eyes up and down, right to left, and clockwise and counterclockwise.
- Repeat this process for a total of 5 minutes.
- Follow it with palming.
- Do this once daily.
8. Healing Potential of Rose Water
Rose water works as a natural relaxer for strained and tired eyes. It has a soothing effect.
It can rejuvenate the skin around the eyes and fade dark circles and eye puffiness. Even though using rose water for alleviating eye strain has no scientific basis, this remedy has registered overwhelming approval by a vast majority of users who have tried it.
- Splash your eyes with some cold water and pat dry with a clean towel.
- Dip 2 cotton balls in rose water.
- Lie down, close your eyes, and place the wet cotton balls over your eyes.
- Allow the cotton balls to rest on your eyes for 15 minutes.
- Do this twice daily.
9. Give Chamomile Tea a Go
Another quick treatment for eye strain is chamomile tea bags. The soothing and relaxing nature of chamomile relieves the stress in your eyes quickly.(6) It can even help reduce swelling around your eyes.
- Steep 2 chamomile tea bags in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags, and put one in the refrigerator and the other on the kitchen counter.
- For a warm treatment, put the tea bag from the kitchen counter on your closed eyelids for 5 minutes.
- For a cool treatment, place the refrigerated tea bag on your eyelids.
- Repeat this treatment as often as you like.
Drink 2 to 3 cups of chamomile tea to alleviate a headache, one of the common symptoms of eye strain.
- Sheedy JE. The physiology of eyestrain. Journal of Modern Optics. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09500340600855460. Published June 4, 2007.
- Sheppard AL, Wolffsohn JS. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement, and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020759/. Published April 16, 2018.
- Mead MN. Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health. Environment Health Perspective. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/. Published April 2008.
- Kim S- D. Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpts/28/6/28_jpts-2016-058/_article. Published June 24, 2016.
- Arita R, Morishige N, Sakamoto I. Effects of a warm compress containing menthol on the tear film in healthy subjects and dry eye patients. Scientific Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381094/. Published April 5, 2017.
- Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular Medicine Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/. Published November 1, 2010.
- Murad H. EVALUATING THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF CUCUMBERS FOR IMPROVED HEALTH AND SKIN CARE. The Journal of Aging Research & Clinical Practice. http://www.jarcp.com/3050-evaluating-the-potential-benefits-of-cucumbers-for-improved-health-and-skin-care.html.
- Computers, Digital Devices, and Eye Strain. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/computer-usage. Published October 18, 2018.