How to Reduce Visual Fatigue in 6 Steps
We all have noticed an increase in the time we spend looking at screens during the pandemic. Whether it’s working from home, online schooling, workshops, watching TV or browsing for the next thing.
Before you know it, the effect of the light on your eyes from screens will have a spiral effect on your visual system, translating into the whole body. If you are feeling taxed by visual fatigue you may notice your tension level being high. You might notice different aches and pains out of nowhere, blurring vision or poor concentration and attention span.
Research has shown that in a natural environment we’re blinking 14 to 16 times per minute. However, if you’ve been staring at a screen for a long time, blink rates usually drop by over 50%. When we’re looking at our iPad or watching TV, that usually drops to about four or six per minute, which can lead to dry, burning, fatigued, tired eyes. How do you combat that?
There are six words that you need to remember that will take you through this: Palming, Blinking, Staring, Switching, Swing, and Spiral.
Popularized by an early vision training pioneer, Dr. Bates of The Bates Method of Eyesight Improvement, palming can create significant relaxation of the eyes.
To do this exercise start by closing your eyes. Use both hands and cover your eyes, either by interlacing your fingers or overlapping them. You want to create a nice seal to keep out light.
Now, relax, breathe and pay attention to what you are “seeing.” You may see flashes of light,
sparkles, or “fireworks.”
Rest in this position and try to decrease the amount of “fireworks” you see. Because no light is reaching your eyes during this time, you really should only be “seeing” black.
Stay in this position and continue to relax your eyes for 30 seconds up to 5 minutes.
For this exercise start by setting a stopwatch so you can time yourself.
Next, consciously blink your eyes as rapidly as you can while keeping the rest of your body relaxed. Try to do this for 5-10 seconds. Once you stop, allow any blurriness to clear and then notice if your eyes feel more relaxed
You get the idea right? You just want to do that because blinking will hopefully help create more moisture in the eye and reduce some of the fatigue.
This one is super easy, all you have to do is 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 should move to a window and look as far into the distance as possible. Some vision experts recommend that if you want to work on your long-distance vision, whatever you’re looking at should be at least 300 or 400 meters away.
So after you’ve done your blinking exercise go to a window and you’re just going to stare at something for about 20 seconds.
The 20/20 rule for every 20 minutes spent on convergence (looking at something up close)you practice 20 seconds divergence (looking away in the distance.)
Remember, blink, stare, switch.
Another strategy to try is switching. Start but putting a target in front of you, such as a pencil with a letter on it or even just your thumb.
Stand with your spine lengthened holding the pen at a comfortable distance from the eyes.
Keep your eyes fixed on the up-close close target and quickly switch to a target in the distance as you did in the staring exercise.
Repeat 20-30 times switch back and forth near target and then to the distance target.
For this exercise, we are adding some head and body motions. Start by widening your stance and you are going to focus on a target, such as a pencil or your thumb, and begin a swinging movement. Now the head, the eyes, the neck are all coordinating.
The primary goal in this particular exercise is twofold for the visual system. Number one, you’re trying to stay focused on our target, two is to help you relax. You also want to be aware of the periphery as you are swinging. Pay attention to everything behind your target which is in motion (to your left side and the right side.)
This is going to help drive some awareness of your peripheral fields, which is generally related to more relaxation.
Now you are going to work all your eye muscles. Grab your visual target again, such as a pencil or you can even your thumb, and begin with a top to bottom spiral. Stand with a long spine and hold your target in front of your nose.
Start by doing small circles, only use your eyes to follow the target and keep your head fixed. Continue to grow the circles till your arm is fully extended in front of you and then reverse to bring it back till its back in front of your nose.
Working on some visual accommodation can help you stretch the muscles around the eyes and improve relaxation.
Hopefully, after you do all 6 of these exercises you’ll notice that your eyes and entire body feels in tune with what you are doing.
The point is not to spend a lot of time on these but to incorporate them into your daily routine. You can start small by saying “when I get up from desk I’ll start switching ” or “once I finish a call I’ll start blinking.”
If you’re working set a timer about every 30 minutes if that’s possible. When it goes off, get up and go through this very rapid relaxation sequence. If you are a visual person, you can write it down on a sticky note and place it on your screen as a reminder.
You can start by integrating one or two exercises to start as not to overwhelm your routine and self-discipline. Palming, blinking, switching, swinging and spiralling are dynamic visual progressions to make tangible change and improvement in your life.
It can save you a tremendous amount of eye fatigue throughout the day. If you’re looking to improve your physical performance by learning more about the visual system, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’re looking to improve your mental and physical performance or want to learn more about the habits of a happy brain, we can help. Contact Align for Performance today.