If you suffer from headaches, dry or even just tired eyes, it's time to look at what you're looking at. For something the majority of us use everyday, our eyes don't get much thought. Unless you wear contacts or glasses, eye sight is a given and we don't think about sight as something we need to exercise or keep healthy. Even after equipping your lenses, it's easy to forget the health behind this useful sense. It's time to be proactive.
Like most things in health, we only start to worry about our sight if it begins to bother us but you don't have to wait for a problem in order to protect your eyes. About 65% of American adults have eye strain and there are solutions to stopping it. The first step is to identify the cause.
One tenth of Americans spend the majority of their day using digital devices while the other 90% use one for at least two hours a day. The exposure to computer, television and tech screens saturates our eyes with blue light which can cause serious eye strain. This results in dry, irritated eyes, neck and back pain or even headaches
. Because our eyes process warmer-colored light easier, blue light takes more effort for us to process. It can even hinder our sleeping patterns.
Adjust your monitor - If your monitor is too bright or too dim, your eyes can suffer for it. Try adjusting the setting on the monitor to match the brightness around you. If you're at home, this will likely be dimming the monitor but if you're in an office with bright overhead lights, you may have to brighten it. Position your monitor so there is no direct light on it. You may have to adjust desk lamps from shining on the screen or re-position so any windows are to your side and not behind or in front of you. If you have a CRT monitor (the old ones with the long backs), it's time to upgrade. They can flicker and cause eye strain unlike their LED counterparts. It's also smart to adjust your display and color settings. Bigger fonts won't just allow your eyes an easier time to read but could help improve posture if you're not bending over. There are different apps that also let you adjust the brightness to a warmer spectrum for easier viewing.
Improve TV Watching - We all love a dark room for a good movie or television binge-watch session but it can be painful for your eyes. Try bias lighting behind your television. It's a form of back-lighting your TV by creating a not-so-harsh center for your eye to focus on. If you've ever stared at a TV in the dark, you have one bright light in a dark space. Bias lighting gently lights the space around the TV so you can still experience a great movie without the eye strain.
Blue Light Lenses - Computers, cell phones, tablets, televisions, smart watches, portable game systems and nearly every other digital thing we carry around emits blue light. We use one or multiple of these all day long. If your job requires the strain, look into getting computer or blue light lenses. Much like how sunglasses block UV rays, blue light lenses filter out blue light to reduce the work our eyes have to do. And they aren't just for people who already have glasses. Even people with perfect vision can get blue light lenses for their job or if they spend a lot of time in front of screens. Make an eye appointment to ask about them.
If you do a lot of nighttime driving or find yourself on the road a lot during the dim-lit hours of the morning, your eyes can really suffer. The glare from headlights, street lamps and even the displays in your car put a strain on your eyes. While driving, your vision is constantly adjusting to distance and focusing on multiple things so it's easy for them to tire quickly.
Headlights - Over time, headlights can bounce out of place and blind other drivers. Adjusting them is quick, simple and allows you to better see road conditions as well as prevent blinding other drivers. (Imagine a world where people could drive without headlights in their eyes. Beautiful.) And since you have them out, give your headlights a quick clean. This can brighten them significantly with little to no money spent.
Inside Lighting - Many newer cars come with lighting adjustments to the inside lighting. Try adjusting your setting to a comfortable level that isn't too bright but still readable. For cars with LED navigation screens, turning it off or into night mood is a great way to reduce a bright light in a dark space and cuts down on distraction.
Clean Your Windshield - Much like your headlights, your windshield gets dirty. You've probably cleaned your windshield but what about the inside? Having a clear windshield inside and out helps reduce halo and glare and keeps you better alert to the road. Your eyes will thank you later.
Fluorescent lights don't just make for poor photography, they're terrible on eyesight as well and of course they're everywhere. What makes them bad is how they work. They're lit by gas and will grow brighter as long as the electricity is on. This means they need a buffer or "ballast" to keep turning the light on and off. This causes flickering. It's nearly indistinguishable but even if your aren't consciously aware of it, your eyes are. It doesn't just cause eye strain but also headaches and migraines too.
Incandescent - If you're in a school or workplace where replacing the lights isn't an option, having an incandescent light nearby could help cover the flicker. It basically covers your space in a light blanket and fills into the small gaps of the flicker. It could also wash out the green tint that fluorescent lights give off.
Take a break - Try looking at something at a distance for 15-20 seconds every half hour to give your eyes some rest. It's also a good idea to expose them to natural light every few hours to give them a break so take a short walk outside at lunch or look out a window for a minute or so.
Shielding - It may sound funny but hats and glasses could help keep your eyes from bugging out. If you suffer from eye conditions, commercial lighting may be too harsh. Your doctor could recommended a hat or specially-tinted glasses to help you filter it out. If you're having eye trouble, ask your doctor for a note to try these at the office and see if they help.
Even if you have 20/20 vision, it's important to get your eyes checked out, especially if you have frequent eye strain. As we grow older, our eyes are working harder. Biology can work against us as well, so it's important to constantly check up on our vision health. Catching a problem early can ease any pain from it going untreated.
Ease the Strain
Eyebright - Much like the name, eyebright can help reduce allergy symptoms that cause watery, runny or puffy eyes. It also cuts down eye inflammation and is great for sinuses and fever. Ginko biloba - For those with glaucoma, ginko biloba may help improve vision function. It improves blood circulation to the eye and provides antioxidant protection. Saffron - If you can't reduce the flicker in your work area, saffron may help reduce your sensitivity to it. According to this study, short-term use improved sensitivity to flickering lights and screens. It's a carotenoid as well so it provides antioxidants. Lutein and Zeaxanthin - More carotenoids, lutein along with zeaxanthin may help prevent and treat eye disease like macular degeneration, cataract and retinitis pigmentosa. They're a favorite among herbal eye care and can be found in egg yolk and dark-leafed vegetables. They could also help with blue light sensitivity.
Caring for your health starts with being aware and eyes are no different. Do you have eye issues and if so, tell us how you deal with them at our Facebook
pages. Tune in next week for another healthy article.