N.B. For those who prefer vlogs, the video version of this blog will be available soon.
If I included everything I do below to keep my eyes healthy, this blog post would be looooong. So I had to narrow it down to those exercises I felt would be the most helpful to writers.
There is a condition known as “digital eye strain” that is common amongst writers. Tell me if any of these symptoms sound familiar after a day spent at the computer:
-Sore, red eyes
These are the main symptoms I have addressed in the exercises below.
(Important note before you begin: check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine, even one that may seem innocuous to you):
The eye exercises:
1. Blink (50 times).
When you stare at a computer screen for long periods of time, something called your “blink rate” decreases. This can lead to tired, dry, and sore, red eyes because your eyes are not being lubricated by your blinking. I do around 50 blinks at the beginning of an eye training session and another 50 at the end. You can choose whatever number you wish.
2. Take regular breaks.
The longer you stay at your computer, the higher your risk of developing digital eye strain symptoms. Regular breaks are a must.
3. Distance training.
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to go for a run! Working on a computer employs your short-range vision. You need to balance this out with spurts of distance vision. To do this, aim for the "20-20-20 rule", which states that you look up from your computer every 20 minutes, at something that is 20 feet (6 metres) away, for at least 20 seconds. The object you look at can be a roof corner or the bookshelf on the other side of the room, but also try to look out a window, or up at the trees if you’re outside. Follow this with more blinking.
4. Focus training A (10-15 times).
Pick a point in the distance that is in focus for you. Then, see if you can shift your focus until the point blurs. Adjust your focus again until it sharpens.
5. Focus training B (10-15 times).
If the above exercise is too tricky for you, stretch your hand out in front of you and point your finger. Focus on the tip of your finger. Notice how everything around it blurs? Next, move your gaze to a spot a little in front of your finger. See how your finger is blurred now? That is what you want to achieve.
6. Focus training C (10-15 times)
With your finger still out in front of you, slowly bring you finger toward the point between your eyebrows (while you focus on your finger). Then, move your finger away from your face until you are pointing again. Follow your finger with your eyes.
7. Ahoy, me hearties.
This is where you get to embrace your inner pirate. Get yourself an eye patch. Yup, an eye patch. Cool options are available these days. I have a cute pink one. Place it over your dominant eye (find out yours) and write for a minimum of ten minutes. Then, switch eyes. I sometimes do this when I’m reading. Even if, like me, you don’t experience blurred vision, I approach it as another tool that is keeping my vision excellent for longer.
A lot of people forget that the eye is a muscle (well, a group of muscles) and muscles respond to exercise. Having said that, the efficacy of the following exercises is debated by science and the medical community. But they have worked for me, so I’m including them.
Note: Keep your head still for all of these exercises. (P.S. You WILL look silly doing them, so be prepared. Ha!).
8. Look up and down (10-15 times).
Exactly what this sounds like. You can place a finger on each of your eyebrows to make this easier.
9. Look side to side (10-15 times).
Again, you can put a finger at the corners of your eyes to guide you.
10. Look on the diagonal (10-15 times, both diagonals).
Look up and down on a diagonal.
11. Roll your eyes (5 times, each way).
Think about those people you’ve always wanted to roll your eyes at while you’re doing this one to add an extra bit of fun into it.
12. Infinity (5 times, each way).
Focus on a point at least 3 metres (10 feet) away from you. Then, trace an imaginary infinity/ figure-of-eight symbol on it with your eyes.
The above is a sample of the many eye exercises available to you. I also incorporate sun-gazing, night vision training, and other hand-to-eye exercises. However, these are a good introduction.
Are there any other eye exercises you would like me to share? How did you find these?
Yours in love, romance books, and eye exercises,
A.K. Leigh xxoo