I'm no stranger to eye strain. Ever since a mountain-biking accident five years ago on my Honeymoon that resulted in a blowout of my orbital socket and two years of legal blindness, I've become a bit of an expert when it comes to vision self-care. The vision therapy I underwent allowed me to learn best practices from vision therapists and neuro-ophthalmologists — the professionals you see when you have optic nerve challenges or vision-based learning and reading issues.
Five years later, my eyes are working much better. But even though I cover all of my screens with blue-light protection; dim my computer, phone and television brightness; and wear prescription sunglasses, like many of you, I still struggle with eye strain and headaches.
Here are four of my favorite tips to prevent eye strain and headaches while studying and testing:
1. Take a break before the strain.
The thing about eyestrain is that it’s a strain of the muscles around your eyes. Just like any muscle that gets strained, the best thing you can do is let it rest and relax for a bit. The even better thing to do is to rest before the muscle gets overworked. Doctors recommend the 20-20-20 approach which works pretty simply: every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, look at something 20 feet away. This allows your eyes to look far away rather than at something close up, and forces you to do it in regular intervals so that you don’t have to break because because of pain, but instead because it’s simply been 20 minutes.
2. Don’t study when you’re tired and feeling foggy.
Study when your brain has clarity. If your brain has already done what it can do, then pushing it beyond its capacity is straining your nerves. Your orbital nerves are part of that system, so sometimes you may just need to rest, maybe close your eyes and listen to a podcast, or take a nap or get a good night sleep.
3. Get blue light protection and adjust your screen's brightness.
Get blue light protection for all your monitor and screens, and reduce your screen's brightness. This will make less work for your eyes and you’ll be able to endure the computer screen digital strain a bit longer.
4. Eye exercises!
Check out our video to learn some eye exercises to relax your eye muscles when they’re sore. Your eyes will thank you.
Want access to these questions before everyone else? Sign up for our newsletter here.