Contributed by Dee Jones
You’ve been reading this great book for three hours straight. Now, your eyes feel dry, watery, and irritated. Your vision is starting to blur. Your neck hurts. And your head is pounding. What is causing it?
You have probably have eyestrain. And reading isn’t the only thing that can cause it. Watching television, staring at a computer monitor, drawing, and doing crafts like needlepoint – all can cause eyestrain.
If you suffer from frequent eyestrain, you should have your eyes checked. Not wearing glasses when you need them, or having the wrong prescription, are common causes of eyestrain, something that an examination could reveal.
Once you’ve had your eyes checked, and you know your eyestrain isn’t caused by a need for corrective lenses, here are some things you can try to find relief…
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1. Close your eyes.
You might not be feeling the effects of eyestrain yet. But, if you’ve been looking at the same thing for more than an hour, you will soon enough.
Give your poor eyes a break! Every thirty to sixty minutes, stop whatever you’re doing (whether you’re reading a book or writing a report) and close your eyes for two to five minutes. If you’re watching a television show, close your eyes during the commercial breaks. It’s all about giving two of your most important organs sufficient rest to function properly.
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2. Look at something else.
If you’re starting to suffer some of the symptoms of eyestrain, it could mean you’ve been forcing your eyes to focus on one thing for too long. So take a break and look at something else for a few minutes.
If you’re outside, focus on a ball game in the park across the street, for example, or look at the billboard down the block. If you’re inside, look at the painting on the wall across the room, or the tree outside the window.
A change in the depth of field your eyes have been set at for so long might be all you need to relieve eyestrain.
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When people are really concentrating on something, they tend to blink less. Which could actually contribute to eyestrain.
So whether you’re working on the computer, reading the newspaper, or doing needlepoint, make a conscious effort to blink often. If your eyes already feel tired or strained, a few rapid blinks can work wonders.
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4. Sometimes, a short break isn’t enough.
On occasion, the only thing you can do to relieve eyestrain is to stop what your are doing, altogether.
Put the book down. Step away from the computer. Pack up your crafting supplies. Unless you are on some kind of deadline, stop, and spend a few hours doing something that won’t be too stressful on your eyes.
Eyestrain is a condition we often bring on ourselves. But, by keeping these simple tips in mind, you can relieve the discomfort of eyestrain, or even prevent it, altogether.
See your eye care professional for more advice!