Like a lot of you, I’ve been working hard all morning on the computer. Staring at a screen for hours can really take it’s toll. If you are still using a CRT monitor, your eyes straign even more than those using an LCD. So this lunch time get some food, and workout a little: on your eyes.
When you focus on a fixed item for a period of time, your eyes will strain. It’s kinda like if you picked up a box around 5-10 pounds. Try holding it up for 5 to 10 minutes. Your muscles at first might be comfortable with the box weight, but after a couple minutes, the box seems to get harder to hold up in the same position.
You can definitely look at a computer screen for more than ten minutes. In the end, though, the same results happen. You eventually have to look away, focus on another task or just get up and stretch.
It has been documented that using a CRT is harder on the eyes than a Flatscreen or LCD monitor. The curvature of the monitor can distort and CRTs use a light method that can cause the screen to flicker from time to time. This makes it more bothersome when you are trying to focus on an email, spreadsheet or other document.
For those who wear glasses, you know that seeing clearly is not always a possibility. However, there are some ways to help with strain, and even strengthen your eyes so you can see better. Maybe to the point you don’t even need those glasses or contacts anymore.
I read a book a long time ago called “Eyerobics” by Marilyn Roy. I also picked up a couple other books on strengthening your eyes. I have done the techniques and it’s definitely helped me.
So back to eye strain: here is a couple simple tricks that can help your eyes relax.
1. Warm up the eyes
A good way to do this is to walk outside, sit down on a bench or chair in the sun, take off the glasses and close your eyes for ten to fifteen minutes. The heat will warm up the eyeballs so they can work out better. Don’t stare at the sun – that can even hurt your eyes when closed. You just want them to warm up a little.
If the day is cloudy or colder, then simply sit back in a chair and put a warm cloth across your eyes. If you don’t have that, then just cover your eyes with your hands – the heat from your body will do the trick, although direct sunlight has been known to relax not only the eyes, but the whole body.
Also, make sure your eyes are hydrated. Eye drops help, but drinking a few glasses of water like the doctors suggest is very important in self improvement. Eye strain can come faster if you are dehydrated.
2. Stretch the eyes.
Just like working out, you have to stretch the muscles you are going to be using. Moving the eyes back and forth a few times at a slow pace will do the trick. Move them to the right, then hold for a few seconds. Move them to the left and do the same. Then up and finally down. Look at your nose for added stretchability.
3. Work em out – Focal Points
(You may need to use your glasses for this at first, but it works better if you don’t have them on)
I was first told to take a piece of string and place one end on your nose and hold the other out as far as you can. When ready, you would focus in on the other end of the string for a minute. Then, slowly work your way up the string to your nose, readjusting the focus on the string. Focus until you can see the individual threads.
Now you might not have access to string, so here is the next best thing. Sit in your chair and look at your desk. Plot out 4 or 5 points you will be focusing on. They have to be distanced from you as well as from each other. Try and keep them in the same line of sight so you don’t have to move around much.
Start with the farthest object and focus on it until you see the little nuances you don’t normally see: Dust, texture or whatever. Focus on for a few seconds, then slowly shift sight to the next item. Rinse and repeat.
Do this for about fifteen minutes. This will strengthen the eye muscles so they focus in better and faster. Just like with a camera, you have to adjust the aperture to see it clearly.
4. Cool down.
Once again: Just like a workout, a cooldown is important. Close your eyes and cover with your hands for a few minutes. Let the heat work on the eyes. Remember to keep your head upright – after all, we don’t want any neck strain.
Once you are done with that, you should be able to go back to work with less strain. However, every now and then you should just look away from your monitor and focus on something at a different depth. And don’t always stare at the same item – make it different objects around your area. A picture, the vending machine, a specific word on a piece of paper, etc.
The more comfortable you are, the better you work. Taking a few minutes to reduce your eye strain could give you more productivity in the long run. And if you have a CRT monitor, this might be a good time to convince the boss to switch to a LCD because a more productive you is a more productive team.