Tired Eyes: Rest and Prevention

In addition to our specialized eye structures, many muscles control your eyesight. What direction you look in, how close or far away you need to focus, how closely you must watch an event or screen, the amount of glare in the area or too little light can all fatigue the muscles involved and result in overall eye fatigue. Our culture's growing reliance on computers, computer tablets and smart phones has also contributed significantly to tired and fatigued eyes. But how can we rest our eyes when we are performing work that requires that we see what we're doing?

Tips to Avoid Tired Eyes
Get an eye exam regularly to ensure that your eyesight is normal or that any corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses are still the proper prescription for your eyes. Your eyesight and prescription can change frequently. Even if you have an annual exam, schedule an earlier appointment if your eyes seem to become overly tired sooner and require more rest.

Avoid exposing your eyes unnecessarily to bright sunlight or the reflective glare off water or roadways. In the same way that dermatologists warn against exposing your skin to ultraviolet rays without the protection of sunscreen, we also stress the same protection for the eyes through the use of sunglasses. Exposure to bright sunlight over long hours can not only cause your eyes to become fatigued, they can also suffer "snow blindness" or the eyes' version of a sunburn. If this does occur, rest your eyes often with cool damp washcloths to your eyes and take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine for the amount of time advised by your optometrist. Avoid snow, sun, water or road glare during your recovery and always wear sunglasses in the future to avoid suffering from this condition again.

Almost all students and most workers have to spend some or most of their day in front of computers. Be sure that the room is properly lighted -- neither too bright nor too dim. Adjust the computer's screen brightness to minimize the need to struggle to see the text versus squinting to avoid glare. Ask our staff about portable screens that can be used in front of your computer screen or special glasses to use when working with a computer to minimize eyestrain.

Finally, take regular rest breaks away from constant attention to the screen. Look away from the computer during telephone calls, for example, or print out required reading material if necessary.

What do you do throughout the day to rest your eyes?

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