Tired eyes: an avoidable trap

Tired eyes - comic

My eyes are often dry and tired. Too often. Sometimes, after a whole day behind a computer screen, they can even start to get painful. Some other days, they start stinging the moment I wake up…

Why are the eyes tired?

Pollution can play a major role in eyes tiredness and dryness. If you live in a big city, I suggest that you download a mobile app that will give you the air pollution index (I use Breezo Meter – androidiphone). Try then to see if you can establish a link between pollution peaks and your eyes problems.

In my case, I know that I spend way too much time in front of screens: computer, TV, smartphone. I know that it plays a big role in it, but that surely doesn’t explain why do I struggle that much with my eyes while other people do the exact same thing with no problem at all. For me, even if the screen play an important role, the origin of the problem is deeper.

I don’t know what the problem is, even though I strongly suspect a link with my overall fatigue. Indeed, the wellness of my eyes is often related to my general status.

The solution that we don’t like that much: stopping screens

Nope. I need screens to work: I’m a web developer (go and try to build a website without a screen…!) And it’s also the main link with my family. And it’s nice to watch a movie or serie once in a while… So, stopping watching screens is definitely not an option.

Eyes tired from screens - comic

Still, maybe it’s time to wonder if are not using screen a bit too much. Couldn’t we reduce or alleviate their effect? For instance, we could do more breaks in order to let the eyes rest a bit (and maybe even take advantage of that break to do eye exercises – see below). Or replace a movie by a book. Or 2 youtube videos by some meditation.

Healing the eyes by eating better?

Personally, I couldn’t experiment a link between food and my eyes tiredness. Probably because the effect disseminates within several days, or even weeks. And also probably because there are too many factors in stake… (you will see)

I still wanted to put here a little sum up of what you can find here and there on the web.

  • The vitamins
    • Vitamin A
      eggs (vitamine A is mostly in the yolk), calf liver, butter, meat, fish, but also carrots, tomatoes apricots, spinach, pumpkin, lettuces, peppers, melons…
    • Vitamin B
      yeast, bran, peanut with skin, wild rice, products with whole wheat, almonds, barley, legums… (actually, it depends on what kind of vitamin B we’re talking about, but I’m not going to complexify)
    • Vitamin E
      sunflower oil, colza oil, walnuts, hazelnuts, olive oil, dried apricots…
    • Vitamin C
      parsley, broccoli, citrus fruits, spinach, cabbage…
    • Vitamin D
      sun, fishes
  • Les oméga- 3
    fat fishes (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardine…) and vegetable oils rich in omega-3(colza, walnut, flax seed)
  • Antioxidants and anti-radicals foot (Lutein and zeaxanthin)
    green cabbage, spinach, summer pumpkin, winter pumpkin, broccoli, green peas, corn, eggs…

Well, easy to sum up: it is necessary to have a balanced diet, and specially good fats. The other way around, if you eat wrong, it’s probably bad for your eyes.

Eye exercises

That is definitely THE one thing that works for me, except that there is a trap…

The main trap: a delayed effect

Yep, even I fall into it all the time. When my eyes hurt, I do the exercises. It’s annoying because the relief is very light, nothing amazing. But I keep doing it. With time, my discomfort vanishes, even sometimes completely (usually within 2 to 3 days). But then, when it is better, I easily forget to keep on… and back to square one! Even though I know it too well, I keep doing the yoyo very often…

So you have it now: what you need to do is practice every single day. Add it to you routine so that you won’t forget!

What kind of exercices exactly?

I am no ophthalmologist, but I can still tell you what works for me.

Use the environment or your fingers.
You can move your index finger from left to right or top to bottom, and follow the mouvement with your eyes. You can also alternately look two static points (1 second of interval). Those two points can be on your right and on your left, but also up and down, or close and far.

Eye exercise with one finger
Move your finger horizontally and follow the mouvement with your eyes
Eye exercise with one finger
Move your finger vertically and follow the mouvement with your eyes
Eye exercise with two fingers
Alternatively look at each finger (1 second)
Eye exercise with two fingers
Alternatively look between a close point and a far one (1 second)
(you can use your fingers or any object from your environment)

Use a mobile app.
I personally use Eye Care Plus (for Android) and it suits me so far, but I let you pick whatever you prefer. The convenient part is that you can have reminders, and that the duration of the exercises is always the same (around 5 minutes). Otherwise it’s too tempting to shorten it (a bit like when you brush your teeth, if you kow what I mean).

Eye exercises on a mobile app - comic

Use stereograms.
A stereogram is made of two images into one. The aim is that each eye look an image that is slightly different from the other. If you manage to do so, you should be able to see a 3D image. You need to have your eyes focus further, whereas the image is close.

I find this eye exercise very efficient and I practice it often, as an addition to my mobile app exercises.

How stereograms work
In order to visualise a stereogram, you need to look beyond the image (behind).
butterfly stereogram
Example of an easy stereogram: butterfly
(click to enlarge)
Lazer of glass stereogram
Example of a difficult stereogram. It’s the one that works best for me!
(click to enlarge)

How often?

The more you do, the better. Some days, I do up to 4. But of course, it’s a bit boring and it takes time. For me, 2 to 3 times a day is a good compromise. Of course, the more I use screens, the more I exercise, in order to compensate.

The hot water compress

Eventually, you may apply a hot water compress onto each eye to relieve your eye problems. I don’t do it often myself because the exercises are usually enough, but once in a while it always feels good!

Also, ophthalmologists advise doing so to prevent or cure little problems like chalazions.

hot water compress on the eyes - comic

Conclusion

To sum up, you must do a lot of breaks if you have to use screens. And you must eat healthy. But the most important would be to do eye exercises every day, even when it feels fine.

What other tricks do you have for relieving eyes problems? Leave a message in the comments.

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