Avoiding Eyestrain from the Use of Digital Devices

tired eyes

Prolonged use of digital devices such as computers, cell phones or tablets causes what is known as eyestrain or eye fatigue. This is a set of eye discomforts that develop after spending several hours in front of a digital screen.

The main symptoms of eye fatigue are eye pain, eye redness and tearing. The sensation of having something in our eyes can cause us to seek some relief by rubbing them. Doing so promotes the secretion of tears that help cleanse the ocular surface. However, far from improving the situation, rubbing the eyes can often be counterproductive. Persistent and aggressive eye rubbing can damage the delicate skin of the eyelids as well as the ocular surface.

On the other hand, it is advisable, especially during these days, to avoid touching the eyes since, if the hands are not properly cleaned, they can favor the entry of viruses or bacteria into our organism.

Lubricated Eyes

To avoid suffering eye fatigue, it is best to avoid excessive use of screens. However, in these days of confinement, the use of digital screens is greater. To the teleworking that a large part of the population is forced to do and the online classes that students must follow, we have to add that leisure, on many occasions, is done through digital devices. Watching movies, series, playing video games, even chatting with friends or family is done in front of these screens.

The problem of paying attention to what we do on digital devices is that the eyes stop blinking regularly reducing the amount of blinking. As a result, the eyes are not lubricated as much as they should be and become dry.

That is why it is important to blink often and whenever we are aware of it. Blinking slowly for a few seconds can help restore the ideal lubrication of the eyes.

Avoiding a dry workplace (heat from heating can dry out the environment) also helps the eyes stay moist. Sometimes it may be a good idea to use a humidifier in the room to achieve an optimal environment.

The use of lubricating tears is an effective aid to avoid developing eyestrain.

Ocular Exercises

It is important to allow the eye to rest. Forcing the eye muscles to fixate the eyes for a long time at the same distance fatigues the eyes. To avoid this, it is advisable to look away through the window for 20 seconds after 20 minutes of work in front of the screen.

Alternating the near view, looking at an object that is close to us, with the far view, doing the same with an object that is far away, also helps to rest the eye. Repeating this exercise for 10 seconds helps to relax the eye muscles.

It is also advisable to take several five-minute breaks, get up from your chair during this time and walk around looking into the distance. It is very common that work forces us to remain attentive to the screens continuously for hours.

However, the indicated breaks are essential for us to reach the end of the day with a good visual health that can contribute, among other things, to reduce the risk of suffering headaches.

Eye Relaxation Exercises for Tired Eyes

In winter, with shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight, we spend a lot of time doing activities in enclosed spaces with artificial light.

In addition, to heat these places, we tend to use hot air appliances.

If we add to this the long working days in front of the computer screen, it is not surprising that our eyes suffer.

The aggression that these factors exert on the eyes gives rise to what is known as dry eye syndrome. This is such a common inflammatory disorder that it is the most frequent cause of consultation with a specialist.

Dryness of the ocular surface causes eye discomfort such as irritation, foreign body sensation, eye fatigue and red eyes. Sometimes photophobia also develops.

Constant tearing of the eyes may also be caused by this syndrome. The dryness of the eye overstimulates the secretion of tears to try to cope with this problem. This, however, is often not enough.

How to soothe the eyes

To prevent the onset of dry eye, it is advisable to avoid factors that contribute to its development. Spending more time outdoors or avoiding overly warm environments can improve eye health.

It is also advisable to avoid long days in front of the computer screen and, if this is not possible, at least take breaks every 20-25 minutes to look away for at least one minute. On the other hand, keeping your eyes fixed on the screen reduces blinking, so being aware of this and forcing yourself to blink several times in a row is a good option.

Sometimes it is necessary to use artificial tears to keep the eyes lubricated.

Eye relaxation exercises

To relax the eyes when we begin to feel tired, we can perform a simple eye massage.

To do this, place the palms of your hands over your eyes, exerting a slight pressure. After a minute, open your eyes slowly to get used to the light.

We can also relax the eyes by making soft circular movements with the fingers on the eyelids.

Opening and closing the eyes quickly for a few seconds, alternating the vision of a distant point with another that is near or, keeping the head still, moving the eyes in various directions (up, down and sideways), are exercises that can help relax the eye muscles and achieve a more comfortable vision for a longer period of time.

Why Do Eyes Hurt?

Occasionally the eyes may hurt. It is not very common but can occur as a consequence of certain factors such as stress, lack of sleep or excessive exposure to electronic devices. Eye pain is called Ocular Neuralgia.

It is usually accompanied by headaches and is more common among women over the age of 50.

People with ocular neuralgia report a sharp or stabbing pain in the eyes.

The onset of pain is usually related to the excessive use of digital devices. It has been shown that the blinking of the eyes decreases when the eyes are in front of a screen for long periods of time. When this happens, the eyes lose moisture and dry out, causing redness and itching or eye pain.

On the other hand, an incorrect prescription of glasses or a bad use of contact lenses often causes eye pain.

Other Causes of Eye Pain

Conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the conjunctiva, usually causes ocular neuralgia. There are several types of conjunctivitis, but they all have in common the infection of the membrane that lines the back of the eyelids and the front of the eyeball.

Inflammation of the conjunctiva makes the eye so sensitive to light that exposure to light can cause eye pain.

Another inflammation, this time of the optic nerve, can also cause eye pain. Optic neuritis, as it is called, can lead to vision loss. In fact, pain and temporary vision loss are common symptoms of optic neuritis. Eye pain worsens with eye movement.

Acute glaucoma is caused by elevation of intraocular pressure caused by sudden obstruction of the drainage system that allows the aqueous humor of the eye to pass into the anterior chamber.

One of the consequences of acute glaucoma is eye pain. Intense pain that starts in the eye and may cause headaches that extend to the back of the neck and may even affect the trigeminal nerve.

Treatment of Ocular Neuralgia

Ocular neuralgia usually subsides in a few days. Analgesics are usually prescribed to combat the pain. However, if the pain does not subside, it is important to see a physician to detect the cause of the pain and treat it in the most appropriate way.

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