We are spending more time than ever on the computer or in front of a screen. If you find yourself squinting and rubbing your eyes after a stretch of screen time, you’re not alone.
It’s estimated that adult Americans spend 8 hours a day in front of a screen. This high amount of screen time has brought about blurred vision, itchy and watery eyes, headaches, double vision, and other symptoms of eye strain.
Screen use (including computer monitors and smartphones) causes your eyes to focus at a single point near your face. Our eyes weren’t intended to do so much close-up work, but modern technology has us focusing at a near distance often. This adds extra strain on the eye muscles.
One way to rejuvenate your eyes is to do simple yoga exercises for your eyes and face. When mindfully practiced, these simple exercises rest overused muscles, reduce tension in the face and eyes, and help strengthen muscles that help the eyes focus.
The following exercises are recommended by optometrists to help the eyes to be more flexible and adaptable, which will keep eye problems from getting worse, and may even help them improve.
The next time you find yourself rubbing your eyes while staring at a screen, try out the following exercises. You can practice them individually, or as a sequence. Repeat them throughout the day as needed.
- Rub your hands together for 10 to 15 seconds until they feel warm and energized.
- Gently place your hands over your eyes, with the fingertips resting on the forehead, the palms over the eyes, and the heels of the hands resting on the cheeks. Hollow the hands slightly and allow them to form a curtain of darkness in front of the eyes.
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax. Envision the eyes absorbing the darkness like a sponge. Let the eyes be soft and spacious, and enjoy this break from visual stimulation.
- Continue this palming action as long as it feels soothing—for just a few seconds or up to five minutes. When you are ready to emerge, gently remove the hands from the face and slowly open the eyes.
You can repeat this palming technique again after the other exercises.
2. EYE ROLLING
- Sit upright with a long spine and relaxed breath.
- Soften your gaze by relaxing the muscles in your eyes and face.
- Without moving your head, direct your gaze up toward the ceiling. Then slowly circle your eyes in a clockwise direction, tracing as large a circle as possible. Gently focus on the objects in your periphery as you do this, and invite the movement to feel smooth and fluid.
- Repeat three times, then close the eyes and relax. When you’re ready, perform the same eye-rolling movement three times in a counterclockwise direction.
3. FOCUS SHIFTING
- Relax your body and breathe comfortably. Hold one arm straight out in front of you in a loose fist, with the thumb pointing up.
- Bring your eyes to focus on your thumb. While keeping your eyes trained on it, slowly move the thumb toward your nose until you can no longer focus clearly on it. Pause for a breath or two, and then lengthen the arm back to its original outstretched position, while maintaining focus on the thumb.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
4. DISTANCE GAZING
- Rest your gaze on a distant object (if you’re indoors, look out a window, if you can).
- Focus on the object as clearly as possible, while staying relaxed in the eyes and face.
- Take a deep breath, and then slowly shift your gaze to another distant object around you. Imagine your eyes are gently “drinking in” the image you see. Continue letting your eyes drift about the world around you, momentarily pausing at objects at varying distances away from you.
- As an extra bonus, if you spy something particularly pleasing, smile, enjoy the vision, and give thanks for your strong, healthy eyes.