7 Simple Tips To Nix Eye Strain That Don’t Involve Getting Specs

Try these quick proactive tweaks from top docs


By Aviva Patz |

It’s quite elementary: when you stare at something at close range for long periods of time, the muscles in your eyes get tired. Exhausted, really. As with any other sore muscle, the discomfort is temporary and will subside when you peel your gaze away. But why let your eyes get that worn out in the first place? Try these quick proactive tweaks from top docs.

Sit further away

Aim to be about 50 to 60 centimetres from your computer screen. At arm’s length, you’ll squint less, which means fewer headaches and less eye strain, says neuroscientist Dr Jim Stringham.

Dim the lights

And close the shades: bright lights and sunshine reflect off the monitor and back into your eyes, irritating them. On your devices (laptop and computer), download an app, like f.lux, that removes the blue light from your device and reduces eye strain. And that night-mode light on your phone? Leave it on always, says optometrist and Mellins i-Style regional manager, Meriek van den Berg, it zaps blue light too.

READ MORE: 5 Eye Care Mistakes You Need To Stop Making Right Now

Enlarge the text on your gadgets

Words on the screen are made up of pixels with blurry edges; our eyes have to work harder to read them, which can lead to eye strain. The text you’re looking at should be three times the smallest size that you can read from your normal viewing position.

Use the 20-20-20 rule

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet (about six metres) away for 20 seconds. “It relaxes the eye muscles and reduces symptoms of pseudomyopia, a temporary difficulty switching your focus from near to far,” says optometrist Dr Monica Nguyen.

READ MORE: Doctors Discovered 27 Contact Lenses Stuck In This Woman’s Eye 

Lube up

If your eyes are burning or dry, apply OTC artificial tears without preservatives (which can cause more irritation) every two to three hours (try Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops, R125, Dis-Chem). If they don’t provide relief, ask your doc about a prescription.

Visit the doc annually

Yes, even if you’ve never had eye problems before. She can spot issues such as short-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism and prescribe lenses or glasses to correct or treat the issue before it worsens. The eye doc can even detect diabetes and high blood pressure!

Eat your spinach

In a 2017 study, people who took a daily lutein and zeaxanthin supplement (the equivalent of two large bowls of spinach a day or five 200g weekly servings) for six months reported 29 per cent less eye strain, 28 per cent less eye fatigue and 34 per cent fewer headaches than a placebo group. Turns out the retina sucks up these nutrients and uses them to filter out damaging blue light, according to Stringham.

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