The Covid pandemic has meant LOTS of changes. If you are one of the lucky ones, the worst change you have experienced is more time in front of a screen. Working on-line coupled with binge watching with some gaming mixed in can easily translate into more time staring at screens than away from screens.
Here are five excellent tips to help keep your peepers perky.
1 – Take a break, for your eyes sake
For many of us we have spent a large portion of our time moving from one screen to the next. Your eyes, like all body parts, need care and attention to stay healthy. Good news, eye care is fairly simple and free. Unlike getting 24-inch pythons.
Eye fatigue is serious, so serious that it even has a serious name. Asthenopia. it sounds scary, but most of the time, asthenopia isn’t serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. The correct way to rest your eyes is not to move to another screen, like closing the laptop to doom-scroll on your phone, but to us the “20-20-20” rule. That means looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes you look at a screen.
It is one of the reasons that going for a short walk can make your eyes feel refreshed and invigorated. Taking the dog for a walk or a stroll through a park means your eyes can focus on objects further away, giving them a break from looking at those little pixels on your PC.
If getting outside isn’t an option, experts say that the “20-20-20” rule can be effective through a window as well.
The most important thing is to give your eyes those regular breaks.
2 – Position your eyes (along with the rest of you) appropriately
Many of us cause our own discomfort by not properly setting up our devices. For optimum eye health, make sure your computer screen is about 50-70 cms, or arm’s length away from your face. The height of the screen can make a difference as well. Try to position the center of your screen slightly below eye level to decrease discomfort from poor posture. In the case of laptops, this can be tricky, but adding an external keyboard will allow you to move the screen to an appropriate height. Also, adjust the brightness of your screen to match the level of ambient light around you.
Each of these small touches can help take the strain off your eyes.
3 – Eat for eye health
No surprise here. Your body requires proper nutrition and when it doesn’t get properly nourished it can’t to its job. Your eyes included. As part of your healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants, like Vitamins A and C; foods like leafy, green vegetables and fish. Many foods – especially fatty fish, such as salmon – contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important to the health of the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision.
Your lockdown habits may be hurting your eyes as well as your waist (and liver). Consumption of alcohol or saturated fats may create free-radical reactions that can harm your sight. High-fat diets can also cause deposits that constrict blood flow in the arteries. The eyes are especially sensitive to this, given the small size of the blood vessels that feed them.
4 – Moisturize your eyes.
This part is pretty simple, staring at a screen means less blinking. Less blinking means tired eyes. Blinking provides two main functions – sweeping tears across the cornea and squeezing the Meibomian glands to release the oily layer onto the tears. The second layer helps to cleanse foreign debris away. It also nourishes your cornea with moisture and a variety of needed proteins and minerals. So you might need to help your eyes clean and moisturize with some over the counter help. Artificial tears help keep your eyes lubricated, which can relieve or prevent dry eyes caused by straining. Look for lubricating eye drops that don’t contain preservatives.
5 – Don’t avoid the eye doctor
While the availability of professional eye care can vary depending on where you are, most likely appointments are available to you. With the appropriate precautions, you should not avoid seeking eye care. If you feel your vision has deteriorated or if you are experiencing any problems with your eyes, such as them becoming red or painful, you contact your local optometrist by telephone or online.
While eye strain will most likely not lead to permanent damage, there are some warning signs of bigger issues
Severe, sudden eye pain
Recurrent pain in or around the eye
Hazy, blurred, or double vision
Seeing flashes of light or sudden bright floating spots
Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
Seeing floating “spider webs”
Unusual, even painful, sensitivity to light or glare
Swollen, red eyes
Any sudden change in vision
Like most health issues, a little bit of care and preventive medicine can make a big difference to your eyes. While it may seem that the human body is a constant hassle of endless maintenance and repairs, it is always worth the effort. Afterall, while some parts are replaceable, you only get one. Take care.