Along with workday fatigue and the pitfalls of back pain, it’s stupefying to think that eye strain can result in difficulty concentrating.

At this point, you may be wondering what fatigue and lack of focus has to do with eyestrain. Then think about how many times in the last couple of hours you rubbed your eyes or had to adjust your screen’s lighting? While that was going on, your blink rate was between 2 and 50 times per minute. That adds up to many thousands of blinks per day.

You’re about to read the very real value of taking frequent eye breaks (and physical activity breaks). The added plus is that you’ll get the inside info on how eye strain negatively impacts performance. As in, the cause of brain drain.

An Insider’s Info on Eye Strain

In this case, the insider comes in pairs. Your eyes. It’s about time you looked at an eye anatomy chart. When you view those muscles and read about their actions, you’ll quickly realize why eye strain is such a big deal. Those outer muscles are the strongest muscles in your body.

You may think your symptoms are from something else, like an allergy or virus. Eye strain makes your eyes water, burn, itch, see double, or get heavy lidded. Added to such annoying changes, you become sensitive to light.

What about that taut neck and aching shoulders? Those too could be eye strain symptoms. That also goes for headaches and trouble concentrating. You read that right! You’re in the midst of focus confusion that’s part of brain drain. Neither your eyes nor your brain are performing up to your usual keyed-in intensity.

Eye Strain & Brain Drain

A worried older lady in front of laptop

What’s this business about brain drain being caused by eye strain? When all that ocular action loses focus, performance plummets. Your eyes get sore and dry, and so does your gray matter. There are good reasons for this. Eyes are the second most powerful organ in your body, coming in right after #1…your brain! Added to that, those lovely visual orbs use 65% of your precious brainpower.

It’s no wonder work performance bottoms out when your eyes are strained! You might benefit from computer work lenses or specific exercises. One thing's for sure! Your eyes and brain will get a lift from active eye breaks. They’re one way to revolutionize your workday.

Tips That’ll Soothe The Strain Away

A minor change in your workday habits is all you need to keep your eyes—and brain—performing at their best. It doesn't take much, but the benefits of frequent eye breaks are so good, it's hard to look the other way. Here are a few simple tips you can add to your computer-facing days:

Close your eyes for 30 seconds

A man meditating at his work desk

The easiest one is to simply give your eyes a break. Every couple of hours, close those lids for 30 seconds. Some recommend you cup your eyes with your hands to darken the experience even further. It's a simple way to let your eyes focus on nothing, allowing those eye muscles to relax.

Daily eye strain prevention exercises

Eyes right, eyes left, blink, one-two-three, now three-two-one. Eye strain prevention exercises provide wide-range eye motion as opposed to micro, screen-limited movement. Every hour, take a minute to look side to side, up and down and corner to corner. We also recommend the "Z" eye movement.

Proper screen distance

Screens should be about two feet away from you. Ideally, your screen is raised such that you can "look straight" without bending your neck. The screen distance and proper positioning allows your eye focus to travel more, lessening the risk of eye strain.

The famous 20-20-20 rule

This used to be all the rave back in the 2000s, but has since gone a little out of fashion as it's a harder to follow. The idea is that every 20 minutes, shift your eye's focus to an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In the advent of the home office, not everyone has something to focus on 20 feet away readily available (let alone the discipline to halt work every 20 minutes). However, it is effective and if it's an option to you, you should give it a try.

A few other tips

Reduce the glare! You can purchase screen glare protective glasses, which are touted as not only eye protection, but even productivity boosters (we've yet to test them). How about adjusting the lighting around and near your workstation? Then again, it might be time to give your workstation a refresh. Keep a bottle of liquid tears nearby, along with your water bottle. While you’re at it, consider if your environs are too dry or would benefit from an air purifier.

Final thoughts

The next step is to couple eye movements with moves that warm those shoulders! Counteract being sedentary by getting up to wiggle those hips every half hour. Combine the physical activity breaks that you sneak into your work day with eye-loving breaks. How’s about doing some calming yoga moves to release work tension or starting the day with back tension-releasing morning grooves?

These are all easy fixes to fit into your day. It’s worth it–for your precious eyes and even to avoid brain-busting burnouts!

Part of our Healthy Workdays series

Healthy Workdays with Wakeout
Learn how to prevent neck and back pain, burnouts, ways to preserve mental health working from home and more.
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