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356 Cranston Rd SE #1020 Calgary AB T3M 0S9 (403) 724-0101
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Calgary, AB |403.724.0101

Top 9 Eye Exercises for Eye Strain

A woman sitting in front of her computer, rubbing her eyes due to eye strain

Top 9 Eye Exercises for Eye Strain

Your eyes work hard every day and, like other muscles in your body, your eyes can feel sore or tired after intense use.

Eye strain is a common condition that many people experience. This can happen during long drives, when reading for long periods, or staring at a screen for too long. You may have even experienced eye strain after scrolling through social media for a few hours.

Fortunately, there are quite a few exercises you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of eye strain.

1) Blink & Yawn

Did you know we blink less than half as often when looking at a screen?

This can cause your eyes to feel dry and sore. The easiest way to reduce these symptoms is to relubricate your eyes. Try yawning, then blinking quickly several times. This will help produce tears and spread them evenly over your eyes. 

2) Roll Your Eyes

Often referred to as “rotational viewing”, rolling your eyes can help release tension in your eye muscles. 

Put your arm straight out and hold up your thumb. While looking at your thumb, slowly move your arm in a circular motion in front of you. Once you make a full circle, go back the other way. Try doing this 3 to 5 times each hour to help relieve soreness around and behind your eyes. 

You can also simply roll your eyes gently one way and then back in the other direction.

3) Change Your Focus

When we stare at anything for too long, our eyes can feel fatigued and sore. Try changing your focus to loosen up any tense muscles and relieve some eye strain.

  1. Hold your finger a few inches from your nose and focus on it. Slowly move your finger away from your face.
  2. Once your arm is fully extended, change your focus to something past your finger. Focus there for about 10 seconds, then look back to your finger.
  3. Slowly move your finger back to where you started. When your finger is back to your nose, change your focus to something past your finger one more time and focus there for a few seconds.

Repeat these steps 3 times to help reduce eye strain.

4) Palm Your Eyes

Palming your eyes can help relieve symptoms of eye strain and may encourage better circulation around your eyes. 

Simply close your eyes and place your palm over both eyes. Don’t put pressure on your actual eyeballs. Hold your hands there for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat whenever your eyes start to feel tired. 

A portrait of half of a woman's face looking up to the right

5) Look Up, Down, & Side to Side

Much like rolling your eyes, looking around while your head is still can help relieve muscle tension in your eyes. 

  1. While your eyes are closed, slowly look upwards and then downwards. Repeat 3 times.
  2. Keeping your eyes closed, slowly look left and right. Repeat 3 times.

Try this exercise every hour to help your eyes relax. Keeping your eyes closed can also help spread tears over your eyes, preventing dryness.

6) Use the 20-20-20 Rule

Practicing the 20-20-20 rule regularly throughout your day can be incredibly effective at reducing and preventing eye strain. This rule says that every 20 minutes, look away from your screen for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a much-needed break, reminds you to blink, and helps loosen tight muscles in the eye. 

If you’re not sure where to look, simply choose something in the distance. For example, if you have a window nearby, you can look out at a tree or lamp post. You can also look at something across the room if you’re in a more open area.  

7) Try Zooming

Zooming is a technique that helps reduce tension and strengthens your eye muscles. 

While sitting down, hold your arm out with your thumb sticking up. While focusing on your thumb, slowly bring your hand towards your face. Hold your thumb just in front of your face for a few seconds, then slowly stretch your arm back out. Repeat this exercise for 1 to 2 minutes to help your eyes relax.

8) Trace the Infinity Symbol

Much like rotational viewing, you can trace an infinity symbol (or “figure 8”) with your eyes to help reduce tension and increase flexibility. Try starting by looking at a blank wall about 10 feet away. Slowly begin tracing an infinity symbol with your eyes. Don’t move your head. Repeat this motion for one minute, then switch directions for another minute.

9) Rest

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to reduce and prevent eye strain is to regularly rest your eyes. Make sure you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night and take at least a 10-minute break every hour from your screens, especially at work.

Other Helpful Tips to Reduce Eye Strain

Some other small things you can do to help manage eye strain include:

  • Set up your computer screen at an arm’s length from your face
  • Use a matte screen cover to reduce glare (available for almost all devices)
  • Raise the contrast & text size on your computer  
  • Lower the colour temperature of your screen (less blue light)
  • Keep eye drops with you to help reduce dryness in your eyes
  • Use a humidifier wherever you’re using screens the most 
  • Ensure the lighting is brighter than your screen
  • Take regular breaks from contact lenses (if you use them)
  • Try the “palming” technique with a warm compress

Lastly, make sure you get regular eye exams. An eye exam is a great way to learn more about your eye health, and to learn more ways to prevent eye strain. Your optometrist at Vivid Eye Care can evaluate your vision and ensure your prescriptions are up to date. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help you reduce eye strain.