Eye Health: How to Relieve Tired Eyes

Put a warm compress over your eyes to soothe tired, achy eyes.

Apply a Warm Washcloth

Try a washcloth soaked in warm water on your tired, achy eyes. Warm compresses can:

  • Add moisture
  • Ease pain
  • Increase blood flow
  • Relax muscle spasms

Wash your hands before you start so bacteria doesn't get in your eyes. Dip your washcloth in water that you've boiled (to sterilize it) and cooled until lukewarm. Then put it on your eyes for 5-10 minutes, or as long as your doctor advises.

If you have tired eyes, adjust the light on your TV, computer, and device screens so you don't have to strain to see.

Adjust Lights and Device Screens

Different tasks call for different types of light. While you watch TV, it's easier on your eyes to keep the room softly lit. When you read, put the light where it's behind you and pointed toward the page, out of your eyes. On digital screens, adjust the brightness to match the level of light around you. Also, adjust the screen's contrast, so your eyes don't have to strain to see.

Wearing computer eyeglasses may help you avoid eyestrain while working on the computer.

Wear Computer Eyeglasses

With these prescription eyeglasses, your eyes can focus at computer screen distance. That's about 20-26 inches from your face. Some have special lenses to help you quickly shift focus between close, middle, and far distances. Before you go shopping, understand that computer glasses are not the same as those that block blue light. Blue light-blocking specs may make you more comfortable, but they don't always prevent eyestrain.

Placing your palms over your eyes periodically can help to relax your eyes.

Palm Your Eyes

Eye experts link this technique to an alternative therapy called The Bates Method, named for eye doctor William Bates. He questioned whether glasses were the only way to fix a person's vision. Research shows his method doesn't correct eyesight, but palming could help to ease eyestrain. Cup your palms over your closed eyes, putting no pressure on your eyeballs. The idea is that this can help to relax your eyes.

Make sure your computer screen is at an adequate height and distance away from your eyes to minimize the risk of eyestrain.

Change Your Computer Setup

Small tweaks can make a big difference to your eyes. Make sure your screen is about arm's length (20-26 inches) away from your face. The center of the screen should be slightly below eye level (4-5 inches). It helps to have a chair you can move up and down. Adjust the text size so you don't squint. And try a document holder next to your monitor for printed papers. This limits how much you move your eyes back and forth.

Placing cooled chamomile or regular tea bags over your eyes can help soothe them and reduce swelling.

Try Tea Bags

Tea bags are good for more than a hot drink. They also work as a relaxing cold compress for your eyes. After you've brewed chamomile or regular tea, put the bags in a clean container in the fridge. Once they've cooled, put them on your eyelids to help soothe your eyes and reduce swelling. Make sure you've washed your face and hands well and taken out your contacts. And don't get any tea in your eyes.

Doing eye exercises may help ease eye fatigue.

Do Eye Exercises

Your eyes have muscles, and they can benefit from a workout, too. Try this: Hold your finger a few inches from your eyes and focus on it. Then, focus far into the distance, then back on your finger. Repeat a few times. Or, close your eyes, roll them up toward the ceiling, then down toward the floor. Look to the right, then left. These exercises may help ease eye fatigue. But they won't actually make your eye muscles stronger.

Take regular screen breaks and focus on objects further away to reduce the risk of eye strain.

Take Screen Breaks

Experts say that when you use a digital device, you should take regular screen breaks. They recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. Another tip: for every 2 hours of screen time, rest your eyes for 15 minutes.

Use a humidifier to keep your eyes moist and avoid air vents and smoke.

Improve Your Air Quality

When your eyes are dry, they feel more tired. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and your eyes. A humidity level of at least 45% is best. Also, adjust your thermostat or move away from vents so dry air doesn't blow on your face. If you smoke, think hard about quitting.

Try artificial or real tears to relieve dry, tired eyes.

Try Artificial or Real Tears

Over-the-counter or prescription eye drops relieve dry, tired eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them moisturized and stop your symptoms from coming back. Or, if you prefer to make natural tears, remember to blink more often, especially when you're on a digital device. We usually blink 15 times in a minute. But when we're on a computer, that drops to 5-7 times.

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REFERENCES:

  • UCLA Health: "Computer-Related Eye Fatigue."
  • Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: Relief for your dry eyes," "Eyestrain," "A look inside your eyes."
  • University of Rochester Medical Center: "Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain."
  • University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center: "Eyelid Spasms (Eye Twitching or Eye Twitch)."
  • All Wales Medicine Study Group: "Dry Eyes Syndrome."
  • Optometry and Vision Science: "Blue-blocking Filters and Digital Eyestrain."
  • Journal of Physical Therapy Science: "Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students."
  • Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics: The Journal of the College of Optometrists: "The Bates method, elixirs, potions and other cures for myopia: how do they work?"
  • Bates Method International: "Palming."
  • Molecular Medicine Reports: "Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future."
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: "How to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes."
  • Harvard Medical School: "Most cases of pink eye (conjunctivitis) don’t require antibiotics."
  • National Institutes of Health: "Exercises and Stretches."
  • University of Rochester Medical Center: "Don't Ignore Dry Eyes."
  • Prevent Blindness: "Computers and Your Sight."
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain."
  • American Optometric Association: "Computer Vision Syndrome."
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