Professor Dawn Sim shares the six eye exercises you should be doing each week, to help and prevent eye strain.

Professor Dawn Sim, Professor at UCL, Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital and co-founder of new eye health brand MTHK, shares some tips and comments on preventing eye strain and dry eyes, plus reasons why ageing, hormones and menopause affect eye health.

Dawn has also flagged a couple of eye health concerns on the rise:

1) Prevalence of dry eye syndrome since the pandemic, which could be attributed to increased screen use and modern lifestyles.

2) Difficulty reading small print, which may be a sign of presbyopia (gradual loss of the eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects) but could also be due to prolonged screen use.

We connect with, and spend, a great deal of our lives in front of screens. Between working, Zooming, Netflix marathon sessions and endless scrolling, the average adult will spend over 30 years of their life staring at screens.

This has been made worse over the past year with more and more of us working from home and suffering from Dry Eyes and Eye Strain (also known as Computer Vision Syndrome). This results in tired eyes, blurred or double vision as well as head, neck or back aches. Incorporate these eye exercises into your regime to help relax your eyes.

eye exercises
  1. Conscious blinking

Most of us blink less frequently when we’re concentrating or staring at a screen. If you blink less, your protective tear film evaporates, drying out your eyes. Avoid this by blinking consciously, keeping your eyes closed for half a second before reopening. Repeat this about 20 times and you’ll notice that your eyes start feeling fresher as they rebuild their natural hydration.

  1. Roll your eyes

Sit with your back straight and, without moving your head, slowly and purposefully roll your eyes in a clockwise direction, starting with the left, then to the ceiling, then to the right and finally look at the floor. Repeat this 10 times. And then reverse the roll (i.e. counter clockwise). This exercise will help with eye fatigue.

  1. Try the 20-20-20 rule

Look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds helps to reduce strain and fatigue on your eye muscles. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule.

  1. Try ‘palming’

Place the palms slightly cupped over your eyes, without applying pressure. Let your fingertips overlap, resting on the forehead and try to not let any light through and breathe deeply for about a minute. This exercise is known as ‘palming’ in the yoga world and it’s good for your eyes, as well as relaxing you.

  1. Exercise your peripheral vision

You’ll need to use a screen or a picture for this eye exercises. Place the screen (tablet or computer) in front of you. Without taking your eyes off it, try to locate and touch all the objects around you (a glass of water, notebook etc). Then, interact with the screen without losing sight of objects in your peripheral vision.

  1. Perform an eye massage

A gentle massage is a really effective way of relaxing your eyes after long periods of screen time. Dim the lights and close your eyes. Gently use your fingertips to press your closed eyelids in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds. Repeat the exercise at least five times. This massage is done without contact lenses or makeup.