Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit

How To Protect Your Eye Muscles

Technology is great, but your eye muscles weren't meant to stare at a phone or computer screen all day. Here's how to protect your vision in the digital era.

Eye muscle feature min scaled

Have you noticed that since the pandemic began, your eye muscles seem just as tired as the rest of you? Although the ability to do just about everything from homework, go to school, and even take exercise classes – is convenient, it doesn’t fare well for your vision.

Research shows that staring at a computer or phone screen all day could cause changes to your vision. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to pay attention to your eye health, and how to strengthen those eye muscles using natural remedies.

Are Your Eye Muscles At Risk?

Watching your phone in the dark at night may lead to vision problems.

Have you been experiencing these symptoms? 

  1. Blurred vision 
  2. Difficulty in refocusing 
  3. Irritated or burning eyes 
  4. Dry eyes 
  5. Tired eyes 
  6. Sensitivity to bright lights 
  7. Eye discomfort 
  8. Headaches 

If you answered yes to more than one or all of them, you are most likely suffering from eye strain.

According to Pickwell’s Binocular Vision Anomalies, eye strain or asthenopia means weakness, or debility, of the eye or vision. When the symptoms occur due to the use of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and the like, the condition is referred to as digital eye strain (DES) or computer vision syndrome (CVS).

Keep in mind that asthenopia can occur from external factors or internal factors. Internal asthenopia occurs with visual and ocular anomalies. When it comes to eye strain from DES or CVS, this is an external asthenopia because outside forces are contributing to it.

This problem can lead to myopia (nearsightedness) in youths. While it can be fixed with eyeglasses, myopia can progress and turn severe. For example, myopia is linked to retinal detachment, cataracts, myopic maculopathy, and glaucoma, which can cause blindness.

How To Protect Your Eye Muscles

Experts say you should only spend only two hours per day online, but that sounds unattainable in this day and age. Yet, we can try to fight the effects of DES through these means:

Eat Better

Like other organs in the body, the eyes need certain nutrients. These nutrients can benefit the eyes: 

DHA Fatty Acids

Short for docosahexaenoic acid, DHA is a component found in abundance in the brain and retina.

Sources: Fish and fish oil products

Vitamins A, B12, C, and E

Vitamin A is used to treat symptoms of dry eyes, particularly blurred vision, and vitamin B12 promotes nerve activity. Meanwhile, vitamin C can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vitamin E protects the eyes from free radicals. 

Sources: Vitamin A is prominent in the liver, and vitamin B12 in meat. Both can also be found in fish, dairy, and eggs. Vegetable oils, nuts, carrots, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and red and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin C is in oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, and tomatoes

Zinc

Zinc helps transfer vitamin A from the liver to the retina. This process allows the eyes to produce melanin, which serves as their protective pigment. Zinc deficiency links to poor night vision and cataracts.

Sources: Red meat, oysters and nuts, and seeds.

Best Foods For Eye Muscle Health

Goji berries are high in antioxidants that help support eye health.

These foods consist of components that can support eye health: 

Wild Bilberries

Bilberries are high in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which have been shown to enhance night vision. One study found that anthocyanins indeed improved dark adaptation (the eye’s ability to adapt to darkness) as well as retinal blood circulation in glaucoma patients.

Anthocyanins are found in all berries, but they are especially high in bilberries. If you can’t find bilberries at your local health food store, consider taking a vision supplement containing wolfberries (or another type of high-antioxidant berry) and other nutrients to support eye health.

Carrots

It’s true what they say about carrots; they are good for the eyes. Carrots owe this to one of its components, beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A.

Goji berries

Frequently used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), goji berries contain lutein and zeaxanthin. The two pigments filter out the blue lights from the digital screen and protect the retina.

By doing so, they also help to prevent the development of AMD. Goji berries are also one of the ingredients in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a TCM remedy for dry eyes and blurry vision.

Lifestyle Changes That Support Eye Muscles

You might not be able to change the fact that you have to look at a computer all day, but you can change the way you sit in front of it.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) highlights the importance of proper body positioning when using a computer. 

  1. The consensus is it’s more comfortable to look downward at a computer. Place the screen 40-75 cm away, and the top must be slightly below horizontal eye level.  
  2. Make sure the screen doesn’t reflect the glare from the windows or overhead lighting. Apply an anti-glare filter on the screen to reduce blue light. Clean the screen to decrease glare and improve clarity. 
  3. Pick comfortable padded chairs that conform to the body. Adjust the height, so the feet rest flat on the floor. The wrists must not recline on the keyboard when typing. 
  4. Take a break once in a while. Try following the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. 
  5. Remember to blink. 

These can also be applied when using smartphones. Just remember the three key points – distance, brightness, and time. Make sure to distance the eyes and screen, browse under ample lighting and take rest breaks. Moreover, the AOA recommends avid computer and smartphone users get a routine eye check. 

It’s not easy to maintain good eye health these days, but drinking tasty bilberry or carrot juice and taking breaks every 20 minutes sound bearable. They may seem like little things, but if they can help, why not give them a try?

This is an adaptation of an article, “The Supplements Phubbers Need,” which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. Frontiers. 2021. Adolescent Vision Health During the Outbreak of COVID-19: Association Between Digital Screen Use and Myopia Progression  
  2. PubMed. 2018. Symptoms associated with reading from a smartphone in conditions of light and dark
  3. Ento Key. 2021. Detecting Binocular Vision Anomalies in Primary Eyecare Practice
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2014. Clinical management of progressive myopia  
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2012. Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life  
  6. American Optometric Association. Computer vision syndrome  
  7. American Optometric Association. Diet and Nutrition  
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2021. A Review of Topical and Systemic Vitamin Supplementation in Ocular Surface Diseases  
  9. Science Daily. 2022. Dried goji berries may provide protection against age-related vision loss  
  10. National Health Service. 2017. Vitamin A  
  11. National Health Service. 2017. Vitamin B 
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2019. Therapeutic Effects of Anthocyanins for Vision and Eye Health
  13. Pickwell’s Binocular Vision Anomalies. Chapter 2. Page 5. Final paragraph. Detecting Binocular Vision Anomalies in Primary Eyecare Practice. 
  14. PubMed. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Docosahexaenoic acid and the brain- what is its role?

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