In previous posts we have taken a broad look at eye strain, questioning what is eye strain and what its symptoms are. Being aware of and knowing about eye strain is very helpful, especially if you think you may be suffering from it, but it's all but meaningless if you do not know how to prevent it from developing or how to rid yourself of it. Fortunately, that is exactly what we are going to tell you about now.
'Prevention is better than cure', as the saying goes, so lets start off by covering what steps you can take to prevent eye strain in the first place. Sadly there is no one thing you can do, or not do, to completely avoid wearing your eyes out, and the only way you will know that what you're doing is effective is that your eyes will not hurt.
It is difficult to keep doing something that could well be inconvenient without some kind of rewarding sensation, but so long as you remind yourself to adhere to the following, you ought to be able to avoid experiencing any negative sensations; which is easily the next best thing.
- Don't Sit In Darkness: Whether you're watching TV at home or working late, there are few things that will wear your eyes out more than looking at a back-lit screen whilst surrounded by darkness. Try to keep the light in the room as consistent as possible, thereby reducing the amount of work the muscles in your eyes have to do every time you look away from the screen and back again.
- Take Breaks: When you buy a games console, like an X-box 1 or Playstation 4, there will be a warning inside the users manual that will tell you to take a short break every hour. This is very good advice and not some that should only be taken when playing video games, as the reason behind the suggestion is that prolonged screen use – TV, computer monitor, or otherwise – can dry out and damage your eyes.
- Have A Day Off: In the same way that we get days off from work, you should give your eyes a day off from having to tolerate the sight of a glaring screen. This may sound like a preposterous suggestion to most, especially considering the money we've spend on our smart-phones, iPads, etc. but if you do not put them down from time to time they may also cost you your eyesight.
- Don't Get Sucked In: We've all done it; you're reading an enthralling article, the film you're watching is getting good, you're completely caught up in what you're doing and then you're snapped out of it by your nose hitting the screen. Your proximity to a screen has a great impact on how much strain you place on your eyes, which is why it is recommended that you are never closer than an arm's length away from your screen.
- Accept Your Age: As we get older some of us try to cling to youth by relentlessly denying that our bodies are deteriorating. The eyes are often one of the first parts of the body that will experience wear (unsurprisingly, considering how much we use them), so rather than being stubborn and going without, go to your opticians, get your eyes tested and buy some glasses; you'll thank yourself later.
- Wear Your Glasses: Continuing from the last point, simply owning glasses does nothing to benefit your eyes, you actually have to wear them. You'd be surprised how many people seem not to know this.
- Listen To Your Body: There are many other things that can lead to your eyes becoming tired and strained, which means that you could follow all of the points mentioned above and still suffer from eye strain. When something is wrong with our teeth most of us will not wait until gum disease has set in to go to a dentist or orthodontist, so why wait for things to get bad before going to see an optometrist?
Treating Eye Strain
It doesn't matter if it happens due to being ignorant, obstinate or simply unlucky, if your eyes are strained they're strained; you can worry about prevention after you have treated it. Having eye strain can be very stressful due to how frustrating the symptoms are, so minimising other stress factors – which often easily crop up when you or someone else puts your life under a microscope to see all your eye sight-orientated missteps – will help you to remain calm and regain your health more quickly.
If you are in the earlier stages of eye strain (soreness, redness, ocular irritability, visible veins) then the best thing you can do is avoid screens entirely. At this point the symptoms ought to clear up quite rapidly, so a weekend of no screen use, including Friday evening, should be enough time for your eyes to return to normal.
If able to develop past this point you'll likely experience migraines, blurred vision, in addition to a worsening of the symptoms mentioned above. It is very possible that the damage you have sustained by this stage will have lingering effects, which is why once you have passed this point we would recommend that you visit a professional who can properly assess the damage and its causes, and then follow up with a tailored medical response.
Best case scenario you'll need glasses, but no matter what happens it's important to remember that eye stain in itself is a symptom of an underlying lifestyle problem, and if your eyes are being adversely affected it is likely that other parts of the body are too. For example, a common problem that often accompanies eye strain is bad posture and back ache, which develops slowly over the hours spent hunched at a desk, peering longingly at the back-lit screen.
The point is you'll need to make a change regardless of how your eye strain is treated, that is if you want to avoid straining your eyes again or developing another kind of repetitive strain injury. If you want to find more information on repetitive strain injuries take a look at our Ultimate Guide To Repetitive Strain Injuries, or take a look across our vast range of ergonomic Monitor Stands, Office Furniture and Workstation Products to see how each can be used to ward away injury and improve your physical well-being.