Give your eyes a holiday

Dry eyes? Sore eyes? Itchy eyes? Blurred vision? Headaches? Fatigue? Your eyes could be screaming for a rest. Just as your back needs a break from the office chair and your feet need freedom from shoes, so do your eyes need some time out.

Working, learning and socialising online has characterised life during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are anything like everyone else in the rest of the world, you have spent more time staring at screens in 2020 than ever before.

You’re blinking less

Typically, you will blink about 18 to 20 times in a minute but when you are looking at a screen, blinks slow down to between eight and ten times per minute. The problem with blinking less is that your eyes get dry. When they get dry, they can become red, itchy and uncomfortable.

You’re getting more blue light

Let’s not forget the effect of blue light on your eyes. Blue light, which emits from the screens of computers, laptops and smart phones, is harmful to your eyes because it has the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This penetrates right through your eyes’ natural filters and over time, this exposure can cause damage to the back of the eyes, increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and permanent vision loss. Staring at a screen also contributes to fatigue, blurred vision, watery eyes and headaches. Are you finding that your sleep is disrupted? It could be the result of too much screen time, especially before bed. It is time to cut back.

Limit screen time

The holidays are almost here. Whether you are staying home or getting away, use the downtime to give your eyes a break. Get off those screens!

Don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time staring at your phone, tablet or computer. When you are using a digital device, keep it at least 50 to 70 centimeters away from your eyes. Additionally, increase the size of the font on your phone so that your eyes don’t have to strain to focus on very small text. You should also consider an anti-glare screen to prevent glare. This is a good idea, especially if you are reading on a screen outside.

If you are suffering from symptoms like burning and itchy eyes, redness or vision fluctuations, it might be time to invest in accommodative support lenses or blue light control lenses. These are designed support vision and reduce the impact of digital screen use on the eyes.

Enjoy the sunshine

Its summer and it is good for you to get outside. A healthy dose of sunshine is a free source of vitamin D which has all sorts of great benefits for your body. Vitamin D helps your body to use calcium more effectively, improves immune system function and is important for brain function.

When you’re outside, whether lazing on the beach, playing sport or driving, remember to protect your eyes with a good pair of sunglasses. Eyewear should provide protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays and ideally be polarised. Polarised lenses neutralize glare and also help to filter out the harmful effects of UV light.

If you are going to be driving long distances, you will benefit from polarised lenses as they help reduce glare and reflections from the surface of the road. Fashion eyeglasses bought at the local beach shop typically won’t offer this level of protection.

Give your eyes some TLC

A great way to relax your eyes is with a warm compress. Dip a cloth into warm water, close your eyes and place the warm cloth over them for a few minutes. This can also help to alleviate dry eyes. Even just lying down with your eyes closed for a few minutes can do wonders for your eyes.

Of course, getting adequate sleep is a way to relax your tired eyes. A lack of sleep can affect your eyes, causing symptoms such as twitching, dry eyes, blurry vision, and pain. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before and after driving long distances. And, try to get at least seven hours sleep a night – it is holiday time after all.

Healthy tips

  • Wear a proper sunhat to protect your eyes as well as the skin around the eyes.
  • Eat foods that are high in vitamins C and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids such as citrus fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, whole grains, leafy greens and fish.
  • Remove your contact lenses at night.
  • Don’t read or look at screens in dimmed light.

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