Most of us have had those moments when our eyes are just plain uncomfortable. They don’t hurt, they aren’t infected, but they just are bothersome. So what can you do about it?
First of all, if you are worried there is an infection or you are in pain, please come see us.
Otherwise, try to keep these things in mind and your eyes will be much happier:
Problem 1 | Computer related strain: This could easily be the most common source of eye discomfort. Almost everyone spends time on a computer these days, and not just a little bit. Some studies show that on average, an adult will spent around 11 hours a day on some sort of computer device (including tv, smart phones, lap tops, desk tops, tablets.) When you look at something up close, your eye muscles engage to help you see clearly. Imagine flexing your arm muscle for 11 hours a day straight – it’s going to be exhausted!
– Try to keep those focusing muscles active throughout the day. We call it the 20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, try to shift your focus to about 20 feet away, and hold it there for about 20 seconds. This will help keep those muscles from freezing up and causing you problems.
– Frequent blinking – some studies have shown that our blink reflex decreases more than half while we are looking at a computer. If the average person blinks about 10 times a minute in conversation, that means while they are on a computer, they will blink less than 5 times in that minute. It decreases even further when looking at a tablet or phone, to around 3-4 times a minute. When you don’t blink, your eyes dry out, which causes discomfort. Long-term, this can even damage the glands that produce tears, and cause much more severe problems. Try to keep those eyes blinking!
– Computer prescription – sometimes, patients will benefit from prescription that is targeted to alleviate some computer induced strain. We always test your near vision when you come in for a comprehensive visit, so will know if it’s for you or not.
Patients often get a lot of relief from a pair of computer glasses, especially if they have blue-blocking coating on them.
– Increase your working distance – don’t sit to close to your screen or hold your book too close. Closer working distance will make your eyes work even harder.
Problem 2 | Uncomfortable eyes outside in the sunshine, or even grey overcast days.
Wear your sunglasses! And not just any sunglasses! A good polarized lens will help minimize surface glare (off water, cars, wet roads, etc.) and can be much more comfortable. It’s important to protect your eyes from UV in general, but the polarization is an extra step you can take towards extra comfort.
Problem 3 | Light sensitivity to computer light
– Anti-reflective coating on glasses – helps minimize light scatter, and makes looking at a screen easier and much more comfortable.
– Blue-blocking coating – helps decrease the amount of blue light your eyes absorb, which is not only much healthier, but much more comfortable!
– Consider turning down the light on your screen, whether it’s your phone or computer. There are also apps such as F.Lux that will decrease the amount of harmful blue light your eyes absorb from the screen. The latest Apple update added a program called Night Shift, and when you turn it on, you will notice your screen is not as glaringly bright, and much more comfortable.
These are all just general tips to keep in mind to keep your visual system more comfy. If you are one of the millions of people who experience some ocular discomfort, give these few simple things a try, and see if it helps. Of course, if it doesn’t, and you are experiencing worsening symptoms, let us know!
Dr. Ashley Hibbert, O.D.