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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sick of Staring at the Monitor? Try Eye Exercises!

My eye! My beautiful eye.Image by feastoffools via Flickr
It's a pain in the EYE to stare at a computer screen all day long. Trust me, I know... Eyes get fatigued and this can lead to discomfort, dry eyes, teary eyes, headaches etc.. Which can, in turn, lead to frustration, stress, unhappiness etc.. Which can, in turn, lead to depression, anxiety and other health issues... need I go on?

Some sources refer to this as "Computer Vision Syndrome". Personally I hate the word "syndrome" because it is used to describe a simple condition and in actuality, it has a cause and resolution just like everything else. The word syndrome invites people to exhibit undue concern... but enough on that for now.

I started doing some simple eye exercises a while ago, and have found that they work great for:

  • Relieving eye tension
  • Taking your mind off of work for a minute
  • Overall relaxation
  • Rejuvenating the eyes for the remainder of the day.
Try these quick exercises whenever you can. Once a day would be good, otherwise, just do them whenever you can. If you wait until you've already got a headache, the exercises probably won't get rid of the pain so try them occasionally throughout the day for the best results.

Exercise #1: Trace the screen.
Keep your head facing your monitor, keep your back and neck straight. Moving only your eyes, trace the frame of your monitor. When eyes move, they naturally "hop" from one spot to another, try to keep the movement as smooth as possible. One revolution around the frame of your monitor should take about 8-10 seconds to complete. Do this 5-6 times.

Exercise #2: Stretch your peripherals.
No, this doesn't mean yank on your mouse... Again, keeping your back and neck straight and your head facing forward, look UP with your eyes as far as you can. Hold this for 5 seconds and then look DOWN as far as you can; hold again for 5 seconds. Relax the eyes and close them for 5 seconds. Then look to the LEFT as far as you can for 5 seconds and then the RIGHT for 5 seconds. Again, relax the eyes and close them. Repeat this 5 times.

Then roll your eyes all around in the widest circles you can. Try 10 circles in each direction.

Exercise #3: Blink more often.
Not really an exercise, just don't forget to blink! It's been proven that people blink 5-6 times less than normal when working on a computer, so make a conscious effort to blink more often which simply keeps your eyes moistened and prevents them from drying out.

Exercise #4: Look to the horizon.
Pick an object with a good amount of detail at least 20 feet away, or as far as you can get, (if you're near a window, you can look outside at tree leaves or something) and focus on that object. Take a couple seconds to establish your focus and then take a few more to refine your focus on smaller and smaller details of the object. Remain in this focus for a couple seconds. Then hold up your hand about 6 inches or less from your face and bring your focus to that. Again hold this focus for a few seconds. Repeat this 5-10 times, or until you can feel your eyes really working. Then repeat it a few more times for good measure.
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