Online lectures, Zoom calls, work from home and nowhere to go means that many of us are running a relay race between our phones, tablets and computers. The extra screen time, often combined a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high on salt results in extra pressure on our eyes making them work overtime. And if you often find yourself with red, dry or itchy eyes, headaches, darkening of the under eyes, blurry vision or muscle spasms around the eyes, you have been making your eyes work overtime.
“Eyes are the extension of the brain. And tired eyes are a sign of both physical and psychological fatigue. They are also related to brain function and hormonal changes which are a result of stress being a trigger. So when a state of confusion develops, or if you feel irritable or lethargic, we often feel that our eyes and we are tired,” says Dr Hemant Todkar, consultant ophthalmologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Pune.
However, there are simple ways and lifestyle changes with which one can calm down overworked eyes. Three experts suggest different ways in which you can give your eyes and your mind some TLC.
Mini breaks for sharper eyes
Sensitivity to light is a red flag for eyes getting tired. “With not much to do, instead of meeting friends or stepping out of the house we are now relying more on gadgets for relaxation and entertainment. Looking at objects (gadgets) that are within 14 to 18 inches for constant long periods cause spasm of the ciliary muscle of the eye, which may cause earlier fatigability of the brain and body. Try to spend no more than eight hours a day in front of the screen,” says Dr Todkar. And when we are working at a stretch of six to eight hours on electronic gadgets, move your gaze to distant objects beyond the window or across the room and purposefully blink your eyes every 20 minutes for two minutes. This relaxes the brain and the eye muscles. You also should sleep for seven to eight hours at night. Drink plenty of water to keep your eyes lubricated (setting a water break alarm is helpful), as more than eight hours of daily computer use for more than eight years results in the computer eye syndrome which causes dryness in the eyes. “Our eyes also need to meet their daily nutritional need. So eating either green leafy vegetables, carrots, milk or fruits daily is important to get micro essentials and Vitamin A and E,” says Dr Todkar.
Application of oil on the scalp at night or morning will also reduce eye pressure, as “stimulus to the scalp causes the release of hormones which relax our body’s muscles.” Sole and scalp massages help us relax psychologically and physically as it helps ease the pressure on muscles. If you have the option, walking barefoot on grass helps relieve eye strain too, just like mother said.
You could also massage around the eyes in a circular movement, 10 strokes in the morning and night, without pressing on the eye. This Increases the local blood flow and aids nutrient supply that improves the tightening of the skin and helps manage dark circles, also seen among people with excess screen use. Remember to use oil or cream to not pull on the delicate skin. "Following even one of these tips daily will help reduce the pressure on our eyes,” affirms the expert.
Deep breathe and relax
“Yoga for the eye helps de-stress the eyes and reduces dryness, puffiness and tiredness. It also helps strengthen the eye muscles and improve your vision. Simple exercises like blinking can make the eyes healthier and stronger,” says Mumbai-based yoga expert Samiksha Shetty.
The expert suggests easy-to-follow exercises to reduce tension. “Remember to keep your spine and head straight through the practice. You can splash cold water on your eyes before you start,” says Shetty.
• Nose-tip gazing: Stare at the tip of your nose and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Release the gaze and close the eyes. Repeat a few times. You can also slowly and gradually increase the duration of the gaze.
• Eye movements:
Make your eyes a little wider than usual and relax the face.
Without moving your head move your eye focus from the extreme right and then slowly to the left extreme left.
Next, move the focus of the eye upwards to downwards.
Follow this with eye rotation, clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
Do these movements 10 times and try not to blink. Close your eyes for a few breaths after each movement.
• Palming: Keep your eyes closed and then rub your hands together for about 20 seconds or until they feel warm. Then gently place your hands over your eyes. Do not touch your eyeballs directly and let your eyes absorb the heat. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Massage the stress away
“Due to the stress caused by screen time, the skin around our eyes also become more prone to dehydration and dark circles. Start your relaxation process by applying under-eye creams containing ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid, Vitamin K for brightening of the area and reduction of dark spots, and caffeine,” says dermatologist Dr Ameesha Mahajan of RM Aesthetics, Amritsar.
Dr Mahajan suggests three easy massage techniques for the eyes.
• With under-eye rollers: Natural stone rollers are available in a variety of sizes and types. When rolled over the under-eye area, they help in depuffing the skin by improving circulation and assisting lymphatic drainage. Start from the inner corner of the eye and roll outwards. Use rollers with under-eye serums/creams to improve the results. “They can also be refrigerated for a cooling effect,” says Dr Mahajan
• With a cold spoon: If you suffer from tired, puffy eyes, using a cold spoon is a quick fix hack to instantly de-puff the eyes. Keep a couple of steel spoons in the freezer overnight or for three hours if in a rush. Apply a facial oil or a serum and gently press around the eyes. Dip the spoon in ice water again and press the spoon against your eyelids. This also helps reduce redness and is good for tightening, reducing skin inflammation and irritation.
• Cold tea bags: “Tea contains caffeine which is a component of a lot of eye creams. If used correctly, you get some wonderful results for stressed eyes,” says Dr Mahajan. Dip normal or green tea bags in hot water for a minute and allow them to cool. Refrigerate for a few hours and use regularly over the eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles over time.