In the digital age it is essential to know and apply some tips to reduce eye strain or visual fatigue, and take care of our eyes as much as possible. The ubiquitous presence of screens of all sizes causes fatigue in our eyes, which results in dry eyes, painful sensation when moving our eyes, difficulty to focus, headaches, and evident decrease in productivity. Read on and find out some tips to reduce eyestrain.

Tips to reduce eye strain
Tips to reduce eye strain
  1. Better safe than sorry. The ideal behavior is to avoid visual stress as much as possible. You should act to protect your vision before you feel the fatigue in your eyes. It is easier to take breaks in time to avoid eye fatigue than to recover from very tired eyes. In addition, these tips to reduce eye strain include exercises. If you do the exercises with very tired eyes, the short-term effect will be greater fatigue. It’s best to avoid getting your eyesight to the point of high or extreme fatigue.
  2. Take frequent breaks. How do you rest your eyes? If our work or hobby involves spending a lot of time in front of a screen (and obviously cell phone screens, mobiles and tablets are also stressful) it is essential to take breaks. Ideally, we should take a walk for at least 10 minutes, every hour, or hour and a half. If you need to manage your time you can apply the Pomodoro Technique, for example. Or you can use gadgets like a Fitbit. Or, if you’re on Windows, the EyeLeo application will remind you to take a break (it can even block your PC to force you to). On Linux we have Safe Eyes. There’s also another great application, with versions for both operating systems, called Workrave, which also reminds you to take breaks and shows exercises for your shoulders, arms and back. Workrave is more focused on preventing RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). During your walk or brief interruption I recommend focusing the mind on topics other than what you are doing at work or as a hobby. Talking to someone about some other topic is very beneficial. It helps clear the mind, which also contributes to our mental health. Taking frequent breaks is one of the most important tips for reducing eyestrain.
  3. Exercise your eye focus. There is a simple technique that I like to use for this. First, place your hand about 8 – 10 inches in front of your eyes. Identify some object in the distance about 5 or 10 meters away from you. Focus on a finger on your hand for about 5 seconds. Then focus on the distant object for another 5 seconds. Repeat about 5 times.
  4. Exercise “8”. Locate a spot or mark on a wall, or on the floor. Picture an 8 whose center is located at that point. Follow the edges of that imaginary 8 with your eyes, in one direction. After 30 seconds, continue the path of the 8, but now in the other direction, for another 30 seconds.
  5. The famous 20-20-20 rule. It’s simple, and it’s another useful scheme for eye rest. Every 20 minutes, focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  6. The importance of nutrition in caring for our eyes. A healthy diet, rich in antioxidants, micronutrients and healthy fats, is important for healthy vision. Spinach, carrots and many other vegetables and fish contain micronutrients for our visual health. Foods rich in beta carotene are particularly beneficial for the eyes. Always in moderation, it never hurts to say so. It’s also important to live a healthy life and cope with stress
  7. Proper Lighting of your workplace. Good lighting of your room or office is essential. In general, the key factor is that the screen you are concentrating on is not the most light emitting point in the room. If the light in the room is natural light, so much the better.
  8. Protect your eyes from direct sunlight. When you go outside, make sure your eyes don’t get too much direct sunlight. Good sunglasses or lenses are important for taking care of your eyes when you go outside. They’ll also help protect your eyes from urban smog.
  9. See an ophthalmologist. At least every two years, make sure you get an eye exam, even if you don’t feel any discomfort or even if you think your vision is fine. Even a slight alteration in our visual capacity can cause significant stress. If you have diabetes, visits to the ophthalmologist should be more regular.
  10. Take advantage of visual technology. For example, there are special lenses for gamers and programmers, such as Gunnar Optiks Glasses, which help filter light from screens.
  11. Adjust the blue light on your monitor. Among the tips to reduce visual fatigue we can’t forget the configuration of your monitor to reduce the emission of blue light, especially at night. There are specialized programs for this, like the famous f.lux and also Redshift on Linux. Windows 10 includes some function for this, but I don’t find it as effective as f.lux.
  12. Use eye drops to refresh your eyes. When we focus on the screens we tend not to blink often enough, which leads to visual dryness. Ideally, we should blink frequently, and if we feel any symptoms of dryness, we can help ourselves by using a good eye drop to refresh our eyes. If you have been diagnosed with Dry Eye Syndrome, lubricating your eyes becomes even more important.
  13. Place your monitor at an appropriate distance. Extend your arm out in front of you. Can’t you touch your monitor? Perfect, it’s an appropriate distance. Also, obviously it’s not about placing the monitor 5 meters away from you. If you find the text hard to read, try increasing the font size.
  14. The importance of contrast. Some people like to work with black text on light backgrounds. Others prefer an inverse colour scheme. Some prefer, for example, dark themes in their editors and browsers. The important thing is the contrast, that it is not tiring to differentiate between the text and the background. In my particular experience, I find an intermediate point of contrast preferable, with cream or gray based themes being the best configurations for my eyes.
  15. Finally, the closing tip. These are some easy and practical tips to reduce eye strain, indeed. However, remember that you don’t just live from screens. Read a printed book, on paper. Talk to your friends and family. Go for a walk with your dog. A short trip to the beach. It is important to disconnect. Your eyes, and your health in general, will appreciate it.