Most of our work is done on computers, and there is usually no escape from it. It is a visually intensive task and, unfortunately, our work pressure and lifestyles do not give us the opportunity to be kind to our eyes. Which is why these tips should come in handy.
i. Know your eyes
- Tears: The first line of defence, they also serve as lubrication by keeping the eyes moist and nourished; they also have a corrective lens function.
- Eyelids: Their main job is to protect your eyes from dirt, dust and harsh light.
- Eyelashes: A protective net for your eyes.
- Cornea: A refractive zone that guides light to reach the retina.
- Pupil: Controls the amount of light that enters your eyes.
- Lens: A refractive zone that also guides light into the retina.
- Retina and Optic Nerve: A bunch of intricate wiring that carries vision signals between your brain and eyes.
ii. Exercise your eyes
Dr Harish S Belvi, a practising ophthalmologist (eye specialist) based in Mumbai, says that regular work hours should be infused with short breaks. During such breaks, he suggests a small and easy exercise: “First, blink your eyes several times. While you keep your eyes closed, roll your eyeballs both clockwise and anticlockwise and take a deep breath. Gradually open your eyes while releasing your breath. This exercise lasts for a minute and you can repeat it three times before getting back to work.” It serves as a good workout for the eyes.
iii. Look away
While working for long hours, look at distant objects either in your office or outside. Looking at a distant object and then returning to your task helps your eyes focus better. Try taking such visual breaks for about five to 10 minutes every hour.
Sit straight at your workstation and rub your palms against each other till you feel them warm. The warmth of your palms helps soothe and relax tired eyes. Then, lightly cup your eyes with your palms and relax for 60 seconds. Count the seconds in your mind. Repeat this exercise two to three times whenever your eyes feel tired, or as often as you want. While palming, you can either rest your elbows on your desk or keep away from the desk and cup your eyes. Both ways are fine.
v. Splash water on your face
During breaks, splash water on your face while closing your eyes. This has an overall relaxing effect and helps you feel refreshed.
vi. Take a walk
After you’re done with lunch, take a stroll outside your office for a few minutes. This will give your eyes a much-needed break and get them some fresh air.
vii. Use tea bags
Keep two used tea bags in the refrigerator before you leave for work. Once you are home, place the tea bags on your eyes for a few minutes as you relax. This not only soothes tired eyes, but also reduces puffiness.
viii. Drink water
Drink plenty of water. It helps reduce puffiness. When a person is dehydrated, especially in an air-conditioned office, the body starts storing water as a defence mechanism. This adds to puffiness around the eyes.
ix. Eat healthy
Incorporate Vitamins A, C, and E on a daily basis; eat citrus fruits, green leafy veggies, tomatoes, spinach, poultry and dairy products. Pack a box of chopped carrots, cucumber and fresh fruits and munch in-between meals at the office.
x. Know your contact lenses
“Ideally, a person who uses lenses should wear it for not more than 10-12 hours a day and occasionally for 14 hours a day,” suggests Dr Belvi.
Never wear your contact lenses while swimming. The pool water houses various micro-organisms as there are several people using it. This may lead to fungal infections in the eyes. In addition, the chlorine in the water can damage your contact lenses.
“Lenses are like sponge, making them susceptible to attracting dirt,” says Dr Belvi.
xi. Eye dos and don’ts
~ Visit your doctor
“One should ideally visit their ophthalmologist once a year, but if there is a problem with your eyes, visit sooner,” suggests Dr Belvi.
In addition, before buying an eye-care product such as eye drops, always check the expiry date and don’t forget to check the prescription. It is always advisable to visit your ophthalmologist prior to visiting your optician. Remember, your ophthalmologist is trained to detect several other eye related diseases, apart from the reading of your eye power.
~ Wear antiglare glasses while driving or at work
“Antiglare glasses are mainly used for focused light — such as full beam car headlights — and serve well for night driving. These can also be used while working on the computer,” says Dr Belvi.
Using a pair of antiglare glasses while working on a computer can reduce the strain on the eyes to a certain extent. If you wear contact lenses, wear a pair of zero powered antiglare glasses for the same purpose.
~ Use re-wetting eye drops
An office environment that is predominantly air-conditioned, coupled with a computer intensive job, this is the perfect combination for dry eyes.
In such cases, you can use re-wetting eye drops to give relief to your eyes. Why? “When dry eyes occur, the aim is to get the tears back into our eyes — whether it is naturally (by simple blinking exercises), or artificially (if the problem aggravates),” says Dr Belvi.
“Re-wetting eye drops have a similar in composition to natural tears. One should go for eye drops that do not have any preservatives. Eye drops with preservatives are toxic to the eyes in the long run. You can use re-wetting eye drops as and when required, but preferably span it to a minimum of four to six times a day. If the problem persists, visit your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”
The two most commonly used preservatives in all eye drops are Benz Alkonium Chloride and Chlorbutol. Read the contents of the bottle carefully and avoid eye drops with these preservatives.
~ Reduce your smoking and alcohol intake
“Smoking and alcohol consumption (either alone or combined) causes irreversible optic nerve damage. As both nicotine and alcohol are nerve toxins, they affect the nerves in the long run. Over a period of time, this can lead to poor or weak eyesight,” warns Dr Belvi.
~ Never rub your eyes
If dirt enters your eyes, do not rub as this may cause the dirt to stick inside. “Blink several times to start your tears flowing; this will help flush out the dirt,” advises Dr Belvi. “If you rub your eyes, the dirt particle will keep disturbing your vision and irritate your eyes. In such cases, seek your ophthalmologist’s help immediately.”
~ Shelf life
Preservative-free re-wetting eye drops have a shelf life of about a year, if the seal is unopened. Those with preservatives last around two years, if unopened.
All eye drops should be discarded within a month after opening their seals. Once opened, the medicinal properties tend to deteriorate due to exposure to the external atmosphere, making it unsuitable for your eyes
~ Protective eye gear
While driving, wear protective eyewear — especially if you are wearing contact lenses (for night driving) or sunglasses with UV protection (for day driving). Make sure the gear covers the sides of your eyes as well.
Being healthy is a personal choice and one has to work hard at it. A balanced diet, regular sleep habits, a balance between work and rest, ad exercises — all play a vital role in restoring our health and helping us maintain our eyesight.
Published in Rediff.com on 12th January, 2006.