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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

10 Expert Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

10 Expert Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

Computer eye strain is a condition that affects between 50% and 90% of people who spend the majority of their time looking at computer screens.[1] Office workers are often affected by it. Still, even children who need to access a computer or tablet for their school work are shown to be at risk of eye strain recently.[2]

When looking at digital screens from an intermediate distance, the muscles that control the eye movement are always active and adjusting to the screen. As this activity stretches over a more extended period, with few or no breaks, the eyes can become dry or tired. 

Although it causes discomfort, eye strain is not a permanent condition that threatens your eye health. This article will explain the symptoms you need to be aware of, followed by 10 tips to relieve computer eye strain.  

Symptoms of Having an Eye Strain

There are a few determining symptoms that indicate computer eye strain. Although a variety of different factors can cause these symptoms, if you suffer from two or more of the following traits simultaneously and your job requires long hours in front of a screen, they are likely indicative of computer eye strain. 

Dry Eyes

Most people blink a third less frequently when focusing on a screen over a longer time. Due to this, the tear film on the eyes can evaporate, leaving the ocular surface dry and feeling gritty. 

Computer eye strain and reduced blinking can also cause chronic conditions such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), which results in dry eye symptoms that persist after the end of your working day.[3]

Headaches

Tension headaches, also described as band headaches, can be caused by concentrating on a computer while sitting in the same position for hours.[4] This type of headache usually starts from the back of the head or upper neck and moves upwards to wrap around the forehead and temples where the pain intensifies.

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The wrong posture and work stress may also cause frontal lobe headaches in which mild to severe pain settles in the temples and forehead. Those who regularly experience migraines need to be aware that tension and frontal headaches can develop into a migraine, so try to take precautionary measures. 

Eye Fatigue

An intense focus on vision while reading or driving can cause the eyes to tire and feel fatigued. The results can worsen when the focus is set on a bright light source, such as a screen. These effects get exacerbated when the rest of the environment is dimly lit or cast in dark light, causing increased light sensitivity.[5]

Eye fatigue can lead to blurred vision in either one or both eyes. The blurriness usually comes in waves, increasing towards the end of the day. 

10 Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

If you have a refractive problem (e.g., short or long-sightedness or astigmatism) and have been prescribed to wear corrective glasses or contact lenses while working, it is essential to follow your optician’s advice and get regular eye exams. It ensures that your prescription is up to date and doesn’t cause any unnecessary, additional issues. 

Having eye exams will also make sure that no underlying eye conditions go unnoticed, particularly when symptoms may be masked as traits of computer eye strain. 

The next 10 tips are actions that you can take to relieve computer eye strain. 

1. Hydrate

Using over the counter lubricating eye drops can help relieve dry eyes. But by making simple adjustments to keep your body and environment healthy and hydrated, you can lessen the chances of your eyes becoming gritty and sore. 

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2. Drink Water

Dehydration affects your whole body, including the eyes, and drinking a sufficient amount of water every day to keep your body and your eyes hydrated can let you avoid dry eyes. 

On average, a person should drink eight glasses of water a day. However, healthy water intake always relies on your size and weight and whether you exercise every day.[6] You can ask your physician about the recommended water intake for you to keep your body hydrated and eyes healthy.

3. Avoid Dry Air

In addition to hydrating your body, it matters to pay attention to the air quality in your work environment. (Read about choosing the correct light bulbs for eye health here: I Wish I Knew These Tips on Choosing the Right Light Bulbs for Eye Health Earlier)

Many offices use air conditioners, fans, and ventilators that can move dust around the air. It can disrupt the tear film leading to dryness and irritation.

Try moving the fans so that they are not directed at your face. 

Where possible, make sure that your surrounding is free from dust. The moisture in the air can increase by using desk humidifiers.

4. Take Breaks

Scheduling time away from the computer screen does not only give your eyes but also your mind a chance to relax and unwind. 

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Studies show that those who work with computers experience less eye strain and discomfort when they take micro-breaks throughout the day.[7] Getting up from the desk to move around and stretch your limbs for a few minutes can reduce back and neck pains that may occur after sitting at your desk for hours as well.  

5. Blink

Every time we blink, we cover our eyes in a layer of tear-film, keeping them moisturized and feeling comfortable. Research reveals that when staring at a computer screen or reading for a prolonged period, people blink up to two thirds less frequently than usual, often only closing the lids partially instead of covering the eyes completely. It causes the tear film to evaporate and eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable.[8] 

If you become aware that you blink less, ideally, you can try to make a habit of blinking more often. However, as this adjustment isn’t always possible to achieve, you can try setting a reminder every 20 minutes, using this time to blink slowly or close your eyes completely. Do it for approximately ten times in a row and focus on a spot far away from your desk to relax your eye muscles. 

6. Eat Snacks for Eye Health

Aside from a healthy lunch, you can make time for snack breaks, eating fruits and nuts high in vitamins A, C, and E to support the complexity of cells in your retina. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts and almonds and used in practice to help combat dry eyes.[9] Of course, the intake of the proper vitamins could also be achieved through supplements.

7. Sleeping Schedule

During sleep, your eyes are refreshed with nutrients and tears, making a regulated sleeping schedule necessary for healthy and happy eyes. Sleep deprivation, however, can cause the blood vessels in our eyes to dilate, leading to irritation and eye fatigue during the day. 

A set work schedule and the regulated sleeping cycle can help you to reset your eyes at the end of the day and ensure that you get appropriate rest overnight. To relax in the evening, try to avoid looking at screens, including TVs and smartphones, as the blue light from digital screens has been linked to promoting brain activity. Instead, try building a nighttime routine that includes tasks like cooking or tidying. 

8. The Right Setup

Digital eye strain caused by computers can be induced by several factors, such as small images and fonts and flickering lights.[10] You can try simple adjustments like increasing the pixel and font size on your computer or upgrading your desktop to a larger flat-panel LCD screen, ideally with a diagonal size of 19 inches.[11]

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Nevertheless, below are a couple of easy changes that you can make to achieve that. They don’t require buying new and expensive equipment.

9. Screen Position

The screen position and angle can alter your eyes’ focus when you look. As a result, it can increase eye strain if you place the monitor at an incorrect angle. 

For an ideal work setup, try positioning your screen at about an arm’s length away from your face. That’s at least 20 inches apart but no further than 40 inches.[12] If you can adjust its height, it should be centered 4 or 5 inches below eye level, so you don’t have to tilt your head too far up or down. The latter can also increase eye and neck strains. 

10. Appropriate Lighting

It’s not only the lighting of your screen but also your work environment that can impact your eye health. 

One factor is background light and the glare on your screen, considering reflections may make you squint, thus leading to tired eyes and frontal headaches.[13] To avoid that, the screen should be facing away from windows or natural light sources. If this isn’t possible in your workplace, you can try using blinds or curtains to block direct light.

Additionally, the color temperature of most screens is set to a blue light, which has often been associated with eye strain. Blue light uses shorter wavelengths than red or orange light, which means it emits higher energy and causes the muscles of your eyes to strain.[14] You can change these settings with most computers and smartphones by switching to night mode. Alternatively, you can opt for blue-light-blocking lenses on your glasses to relieve eye strain. 

Bottom Line

Computer eye strain can be uncomfortable and annoying. Still, luckily, you can get relief by following the simple tips above without needing to buy expensive equipment or take complex supplement regimes. 

Should you feel like your eye strain persists even after trying everything, it might be time to set an appointment with your optometrist. They will be able to examine your eyes and check for underlying issues that prescription updating or eye drops may resolve.

More on Eye Health

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Roshni Patel

Roshni Patel is a qualified Optometrist

10 Expert Tips for Computer Eye Strain Relief

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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

Affordable, relaxing, and healthy, oil diffusers are gaining popularity with people everywhere due to their extensive benefits. Oil diffusers work through the simple process of oil diffusion, which uses heat to turn oil into a vapor that is then spread around a living space. Diffused oil can have several relaxation and health-related benefits, including safe scent-dispersion, mosquito and mold defense, stress relief, and more!

Read on for 11 hidden benefits of using oil diffusers.

1. Safe Scents That Make Sense

Unlike candles or air fresheners, oil diffusers release cleansing molecules into your air that work to purify it, not overload it with unhealthy chemicals. Electronic diffusers also do not pose the fire risk that candles do. Plus, they contain the added feature of interchangeability, which means you change oil types for different scents and health benefits.

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2. Stress Relief

Several lab studies have confirmed that diffusing essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress and help relieve anxiety in medical patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that oil diffusers can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

3. Improved Sleep

Diffused oil has relaxing properties that can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Electronic diffusers not only have the option to mix and match different oil blends (Try a lavender, Bulgarian rose, and Roman chamomile blend to help with insomnia), they also run at a gentle hum that helps relax an agitated mind. Many also come with an auto shut-off feature to help conserve oils once you have fallen asleep.

4. Appetite Control

Much like gum, oil diffusers can help stimulate the senses in a way that works to curb appetite. New research has shown that diffused peppermint oil can help curb appetite by inducing a satiety response within the body. Diffused peppermint oil has also been shown to increase energy.

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5. Bacteria and Mold Killing

When essential oils are diffused in the air, they break down free radicals that contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree oils are especially good for this purpose. Diffused oil is also highly effective when it comes to combating fungal yeast threats, as the oil help makes the air inhospitable for yeasts such as mold. Pine and red thyme essential oils are best for combating mold.

6. Decongestion and Mucus Control

Ever tried Vick’s Vapo-Rub? Its decongesting powers come from active ingredients made from the eucalyptus tree. In principle, oil diffusers work the same way as Vapo-Rub, except they diffuse their decongesting vapor all around the room, not just on your chest or neck. Oil diffusers have been known to cure pneumonia in lab mice.

7. Mosquito Repellant

Nobody likes mosquitoes — but when the trade-off means using repellants full of DEET, a toxic chemical that can be especially harmful to children, mosquito control can often seem like a lose-lose. However, scientists have shown that oil diffusers can be used as a safe and highly effective mosquito repellant. Studies have shown that a diffused oil mixture containing clove essential oil and lemongrass essential oil repelled one type of Zika-carrying mosquito, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, at a rate of 100%.

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8. Pain Relief

While applying oils directly to areas of your body may be the most effective way to alleviate pain, diffusing essential oils can also be an effective means of pain relief. When we inhale healthy essential oils, they enter our blood stream and can help internally relieve persistent pain from headaches, overworked muscles, and sore joints.

9. The New Anti-Viral

Research into the anti-viral effects of oil diffusion is now just gaining steam. A recent study showed that star anise essential oil was proven in medical experiments to destroy the herpes simplex virus in contained areas at a rate of 99%. Another study showed the popular DoTerra oil blend OnGuard to have highly-effective influenza-combating powers.

10. Improved Cognitive Function

Diffusing essential oils has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities, which can work twofold in soothing us when we’re stressed, and giving our bodies a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or sluggish. By working to level out an imbalanced mood, diffused oils also help us to focus. There are also several essential oils which have been shown to help balance the body’s hormones. With prolonged use, these oils can work to repair the underlying causes responsible for hindering cognitive function.

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11. Money Saving

With ten clear benefits of oil diffusers already outlined, there is one more that should now be obvious: using an oil diffuser will help you to save money. As an anti-viral, bug repelling, and stress-relief solution rolled into one safe product, an oil diffuser used with the proper oils will save you money on products you might otherwise be buying to help cure those pesky headaches or get your kids to fall asleep on time. If you’re wondering just how affordable oil diffusers can be, check the buyer’s guide to the best oil diffusers — you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget!

Featured photo credit: Jopeel Quimpo via unsplash.com

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