backup og meta

How to Relieve Eye Strain Naturally: Simple Eye Exercises You Can Do

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Feb 18, 2022

    How to Relieve Eye Strain Naturally: Simple Eye Exercises You Can Do

    Our eyes definitely endure quite a lot. They are active throughout the entire day, and often undergo long hours of work as we do. Just like most of our organs and muscles in the body, the eyes can become overworked or strained, which can lead to impaired function. Thankfully, you can learn how to relieve eye strain naturally. 

    If you are someone who uses their eyes a lot, whether it is for reading, driving, or working on the computer, then you are probably all too familiar with eye strain. If you are unfamiliar with the term, then read on to find out more about eye strain and the exercises you can do to give your eyes some relief.

    What is Eye Strain?

    Eye strain is more of a rather than a condition, that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. However, eye strain generally refers to feeling discomfort or tiredness in the eyes brought about by prolonged and intense use. 

    Damage is not permanently inflicted on the eyes when they become strained. And fortunately, whatever discomfort a person is experiencing usually goes away once they rest their eyes. Eye strain can also be an underlying symptom for  error of refraction (e.g. myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism). Typically, a person experiencing eye strain may feel one or more of the following symptoms:

    • Burning or itchy eyes, accompanied by a “tired” feeling
    • Dry eyes
    • Blurry or distorted vision
    • Soreness in the neck and back area
    • Light sensitivity
    • Having trouble concentrating
    • Headache
    • Feeling like your eyelids are heavy or feeling sleepy

    The symptoms mentioned above can also be caused by Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain. According to the American Optometric Association, Digital Eye Strain can refer to eye and vision-related problems linked to the prolonged use of gadgets like phones or computers. 

    What Causes Eye Strain?

    Eye strain can occur for a variety of reasons namely:

    • Prolonged use of your eyes without blinking
    • Looking at the screens of gadgets for too long
    • Tasks like driving that involve using your eyes for extended periods 
    • Prolonged exposure of the eyes to dry hot or cold air either from a fan, air conditioner, or heating
    • Untreated vision problems
    • Wearing glasses with the wrong or outdated prescription
    • Using your eyes in a badly lit environment for a long period of time

    how to relieve eye strain naturally

    4 Eye Exercises You Can Try

    Eye exercises can help alleviate any discomfort caused by eye strain without having to go to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you are looking up how to relieve eye strain naturally, then a number of eye exercises may come up. 

    However, it is important to take note that eye exercises are not replacements for corrective lenses that can treat refractive errors like astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. If you have diseases of the eye like glaucoma or cataracts, then eye exercises will not eliminate your vision problems.

    If you are looking for a quick fix for eye strain while you are studying, reading, or working, then eye exercises may offer some relief. Below are a few eye exercises that can help with the unpleasant effects of eyestrain:

    The 20-20-20 Rule

    If you are someone who works in front of a computer screen for the most part of the day, then this eye exercise should be something you can practice regularly. The 20-20-20 is simple: every 20 minutes, take a break for 20 seconds to look at something that is 20 feet away. 

    If you find that you are too absorbed in your work to remember to do this, try setting an alarm or reminder on your phone. A 20-second break may not seem like much, but resting our eyes just for a moment can help prevent fatigue. This rule can also apply to gamers or those who love to use their phones.

    Focus Change

    This exercise can be helpful if you feel like you have been staring at the same screen or page for too long. Follow these steps closely:

    Step 1. Keep your index finger two or three inches away from any of your eyes.

    Step 2. Shift your focus to that pointer finger.

    Step 3. Slowly extend your arm while moving your finger away from your face, still focusing on that finger.

    Step 4. Look away from the finger, ideally focusing on something farther away. Once you have done that, focus on the finger once again.

    Step 5. Slowly bring your finger closer to your face again, still focusing on it. 

    Step 6. Once it is a few inches away from your eye like it was at the beginning of the exercise, focus on something farther away again. 

    Step 7. Repeat this three times. 

    This exercise is easy to do especially if you are in the office, without much space. Ideally, this is done while sitting down. 

    Eye Movements

    A variety of eye movements can help ease some discomfort caused by prolonged use of our eyes. Here is a sequence of eye movements you can try if you’re in need of a break:

    Step 1. Close your eyes for a few seconds, be careful not to doze off!

    Step 2. Slowly shift your vision up, then down. You can try following the ceiling and floor. Repeat this up and down motion three times.

    Step 3. Close your eyes again.

    Step 4. Shift your gaze from left to right slowly, like you are following an invisible line. Repeat this three times once more.

    Step 5. Repeat this sequence three times.

    You can also try slowly rolling your eyes clockwise and counterclockwise a few times. Just make sure to do this without looking at anyone, to prevent any miscommunication between you and someone else!

    Other eye movements like blinking or yawning can also help alleviate some of the discomforts that are caused by eye strain.

    The “Palming” Exercise

    This exercise is one of the easiest when it comes to learning how to relieve eye strain naturally. Do this to give your eyes the much-needed rest they deserve. Rub your palms together until they are warm and then quickly place them over your eyelids with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths while you are doing this.

    Other Ways to Reduce Eye Strain

    Aside from the simple exercises mentioned, here are a few quick fixes that you can do to reduce or prevent the effects of eye strain:

    • When reading, try to keep a light source behind you so that light directly shines on whatever you are reading.
    • Try to avoid spending too much unnecessary time glued to the screen of your phone, laptop, or television.
    • If you find yourself suffering from dry eyes, “artificial tears” are available. These products can help lubricate your eyes.
    • Decrease light intensity of video display terminal devices such as phone, computer, electronic devices

    Key Takeaways

    Eye strain happens when our eyes become overworked or over-fatigued, which often causes discomfort. Eye exercises can help alleviate some of the symptoms, but they will not be able to treat diseases or vision problems like error of refraction. As a  rule of thumb, it is god to take a break and make your work area more conducive to be productive. And when it comes to your eyes, also give them a break, especially when using them for extended periods in front of the computer screen. Try practicing the shared tips and effectively learn how to relieve eye strain naturally. 

    Learn more about Eye Health here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

    Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Feb 18, 2022

    advertisement iconadvertisement

    Was this article helpful?

    advertisement iconadvertisement
    advertisement iconadvertisement