We have all experienced visual fatigue from being on computers for extended periods. Obviously, the pandemic has made that much worse for many people. So, today, we’re going to go through five simple exercises that you can use to combat eye fatigue
or visual fatigue.
There are five words that you need to remember that will take you through this: Blink, Stare, Switch, Swing, and Spiral. Blink, stare, switch, swing, spiral. Let’s go through them.
First, we’re going to blink. You’ve been on the computer for a long time, one of the things that have been shown in research is that blink rates drop usually by over 50% when we’re watching a screen. In a natural environment, we’re probably blinking 14 to 16 times per minute.
If we’re looking at our iPad or watching TV, that usually drops to about four or six per minute, which means dry, burning, fatigued, tired eyes. How do you combat that? Well, about every 20 minutes you need to blink. So what I normally tell people to do is count to 10 and blink as fast as you can during that count. So, ready, go. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five, one thousand six, one thousand seven, one thousand eight, one thousand nine, one thousand ten. You get the idea right? You just want to do that because blinking is going to hopefully help create a little bit more moisture in the eye and start reducing some of the fatigue. From there we’re going to go to staring.
Staring – super simple. It means quit staring at something up close. Stare at something in the distance. So if you’re in a room, you need to pick a target that is as far away as possible. Ideally, you go to a window and you would look into the distance as far as possible. Some vision experts recommend that if you’re really trying to work on your distance vision, whatever you’re looking at should be at least 30 or 40 meters away. So after you’ve done your blinking go to a window and then you’re just going to stare. I want you to stare at something in the distance for about 20 seconds, then we’re going to go to our switch.
Remember, blink, stare, switch. Switch means that we’re now going to put a target up close
In this particular case, I’m using a pencil with the letter on it. I’m going to hold it at a comfortable distance for my eyes. I’m going to look at my target, and then I’m going to quickly switch to that distance target. And then, after that becomes clear, I’m going to switch back to my pencil or my near target and then back to the distance. And I’m simply going to do that for 20 seconds, 30 seconds, or as long as it feels comfortable or relaxing to my eyes. So we’ve done blinking, staring, and switching.
Now we want to do swinging. For the swing, we’re going to be adding some head and body motion to this. So widen your stance a little bit. You’re going to focus on the pencil. You can use your thumb if you don’t have a pencil and we’re simply going to begin a swinging movement. Now my head, my eyes, my neck are all coordinating. The primary goal in this particular exercise is twofold for the visual system. Number one, we’re trying to stay focused on our target, but the more important aspect of this to help us relax. We want to be aware of the periphery. So as I’m swinging, I’m noticing that everything behind my visual target is in motion.
So I’m seeing motion to my left, motion to my right. So this is going to hopefully help drive some awareness of our peripheral fields, which is generally related to more relaxation.
Ready for more? Learn more about the follow-along exercises in The Vision Gym.
And then finally we’re going to spiral. We’re going to work all of our eye muscles. So the way that we’re going to do this is again we’re going to use our pencil. We’re going to begin with a top and bottom spiral. So I’m going to hold the pencil or target or my thumb directly in front of my nose and I’m going to start some small circles and as those circles grow, I’m going to be extending my arm away from my body. Once I’ve reached full elbow extension, I’m going to start reversing it and bring the pencil in toward my nose. So, I’m getting some circles. And I’m also working a little bit on my near-far accommodative capacity. So after we’ve done spirals in this manner, we now want to do another version of a spiral where we’re going to start with a pencil, again, close to the nose, and we’ll start some circles going in and out, but they’re basically staying in a horizontal plane. And, I’ll just work my way in trying to keep my head still, as I focus on my target and here and you can push out. Now, if you’re feeling really spicy, you can also do those spirals on diagonals in each direction. Normally, I just recommend one or two rounds of each direction, again, working your way in, and working your way out. After you do those five things, blink, stare, switch, swing and spiral, hopefully, you’ll notice that your eyes and your entire body feel a lot more relaxed.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this. If you’re at work set a timer about every 20 minutes to 30 minutes if that’s possible where you work. When it goes off, get up and go through this very rapid kind of relaxation sequence.
It can save you a tremendous amount of eye fatigue throughout the day.