Give Your Weary Eyes a Boost with Six Easy Exercises

It’s no surprise that exercise is good for your body. But did you know that your eyes can also benefit from a healthy workout? No special equipment or program needed.

How Can Eye Exercises Help?

Exercising eye muscles doesn’t mean you can skip glasses if you already need them. And it won’t cure health problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration. But it can help with some common eye issues.

Doctors may suggest certain eye exercises for health issues related to how your eyes work together. Exercises may also help the symptoms of eyestrain and dry eye.

Many people have eye pain and vision problems when viewing digital screens for long periods of time. Eyestrain can spring from spending the day staring at a computer, the TV, or your smart phone and tablet. The level of discomfort grows with greater digital screen time.

And electronic media has small type, bright backlighting and lower contrast. We may also blink less often when looking at digital media, research suggests. That can lead to dry eye, which can cause inflammation and vision problems.

All of this can add up to Computer Vision Syndrome, leaving site icon also called digital eyestrain. Eye exercises can help.

6 Easy Workouts for Your Eyes

Eye exercises can help relieve eyestrain, make your eye muscles stronger and help your focus. They can also help lubricate dry eyes. And anyone can do eye exercises. Try some of these.

Don’t Forget to Blink
You blink less when you’re focused on a digital screen or other visual task like reading. If you start to notice dry eyes or the beginnings of a headache, try to consciously blink at a normal rate. You’ll likely have to keep reminding yourself to do it. 

Use the 20-20-20 Rule
When you’re focused on a TV or computer screen, or any visual task, pause every 20 minutes or so. Focus on something that’s about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

Follow the Figure Eight
Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Focus on a point on the floor about 10 feet in front of you. Imagine a large number 8 turned on its side. Slowly trace it with your eyes a few times in one direction. Then do it again the other direction. Repeat about five times. 

Use Your Palms to Rest Your Eyes
Close your eyes, then gently cup your palms over your closed eyes to block out any light. Hold them over your closed eyes until all the afterimages fade to black. It’ll take about 30 seconds. Don’t put any pressure on your eyes while doing this exercise.

Do Some Eye Rolls
Eye rolls can help with eyestrain and strengthen your eye muscles if you do them right. First, sit up straight and look forward (away from any screens). Slowly look to your right and then very slowly roll your eyes up. Then slowly roll your eyes down and to the left. Repeat the exercise in the other direction. Don’t move your head during the exercise. For the best benefit, do this about 10 times, twice a day.

Look Near and Far
This one is especially good for people who wear glasses, but anyone can benefit from it. If you do wear glasses, take them off for the exercise. Hold your thumb in the air about 10 inches from your face. Focus on it for a few seconds. Then focus on something about 10 to 20 feet away, for several seconds. Then if you can, look at something even farther away (maybe out a window) for a few seconds. Repeat all three steps a few times.

These types of easy exercises are part of a healthy workout for your eyesight. And you don’t need to spend any money to do it, says Harvard Medical Schoolleaving site icon 

If vision problems continue to bother you after trying these tips, it’s likely time to visit an eye doctor. You may have a visual health problem that needs care.

Sources: The Lowdown on Eye Exercises, leaving site icon Harvard Medical School, 2020; Eye Exercises: How-to, Efficacy, Eye Health, and More, leaving site icon Healthline, 2018; Eye Exercises, leaving site icon WebMD, 2020; Computer Vison Syndrome, leaving site icon American Optometric Association
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