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Eye Exercises for Relieving Eye Strain

Tue Jan 23 2024

Understanding Eye Strain

Eye strain is common, causing discomfort and tiredness in the eyes. In today's screen-heavy world, where everyone's glued to digital devices, it's easy to experience this discomfort. Factors like poor lighting, infrequent blinking, and prolonged screen time contribute to eye strain. There are simple exercises to help alleviate this strain quickly.

Just like your body, your eyes need a break too. Many experience eye strain due to excessive use, and if not addressed, it can lead to conditions like double vision, dry eyes, or headaches. The good news? There are practical exercises that can help relieve this tension.

Studies show that a significant portion of Australians might be facing symptoms of eye strain, with around 70% of adults reporting digital eye strain [1]. Those in their twenties seem to be the most affected, with 73% experiencing symptoms [2].

What Causes Eye Strain?

  • Digital Devices: Spending extended periods staring at screens on phones, tablets, or computers has been linked to increased eye strain. This can result in headaches, discomfort, and a condition called computer vision syndrome, causing temporary visual issues.
  • Poor Lighting: Insufficient or overly bright lighting makes seeing more challenging. Constantly adjusting to inadequate lighting strains the eyes by stretching them beyond their comfort.
  • Not Wearing Glasses When Needed: Uncorrected refractive error such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia can significantly contribute to eye fatigue, intensifying strain.
  • Age-Related Changes: As we age, conditions like presbyopia emerge, making it tougher for our eyes to focus at varying distances. Tasks requiring prolonged concentration accelerate the onset of strain.

Eye Exercises To Reduce Eye Strain

People often ask, “What is the fastest way to relieve eye strain?” or "Can eye exercises help with eye strain?" Absolutely! Here are some easy exercises to help:

Blink Exercises

Relaxing Technique for Eye Comfort:

Get Comfortable: Sit or stand in a relaxed position with a straight posture.

Focus on Conscious Blinking: Start by consciously blinking your eyes at a slower pace than your usual blinking rate. Ensure each blink is deliberate and gentle.

Extended Blinking: Relax and allow your eyes to stay closed for a few seconds between each deliberate blink squeezing for a few seconds. This slight pause and squeeze helps in improving the tear quality.

Maintain a Regular Rhythm: Continue this pattern of slow, deliberate blinking, with brief moments of closed eyes between each blink. Aim for a relaxed and steady rhythm.

Perform for Several Repetitions: Repeat this exercise for a few minutes, allowing your eyes to relax and refresh with each deliberate blink.

Benefits of Blink Exercises:

Blink exercises offer several advantages for eye health and comfort:

Moisturising Effect: Slower and deliberate blinking helps in spreading tears more evenly across the surface of the eyes, keeping them adequately moisturised and preventing dryness.

Reduction of Eye Strain: Conscious blinking at a relaxed pace can alleviate eye strain caused by prolonged screen use, reading, or focusing on tasks requiring intense visual concentration.

Improved Eye Lubrication: By pausing between blinks, you allow your eyes to distribute tears naturally, ensuring proper lubrication and reducing discomfort.

When to Perform Blink Exercises (Incorporating the 20-20-20 Rule):

  • Incorporate Blink Exercises in tandem with the 20-20-20 rule, especially during prolonged computer use or any activity demanding sustained focus.
  • Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the screen.
  • During these breaks, engage in Blink Exercises to give your eyes a moment to relax, rehydrate, and reset their focus.

By integrating Blink Exercises into your routine, especially while following the 20-20-20 rule during computer use, you can significantly reduce eye strain and maintain better eye health.

Warm Compresses

Soothing Technique for Dry Eyes:

  1. Prepare a Warm Washcloth: Begin by soaking a clean, soft washcloth in comfortably warm water. Ensure it's not too hot to avoid discomfort or burns.
  2. Wring Out Excess Water: After soaking, wring out the excess water from the washcloth to prevent dripping.
  3. Close Eyes and Apply the Warm Compress: Gently place the warm, damp washcloth over both closed eyes while leaning back in a comfortable position. Ensure the cloth covers the eyelids and surrounding areas without putting pressure on the eyes themselves.
  4. Relax for 3-5 Minutes: Keep the warm compress in place for 3-5 minutes, allowing the heat to penetrate and soothe the eyes.
  5. Repeat as Needed: You can repeat this process multiple times throughout the day for relief, ensuring the cloth remains warm.

Incorporating Lid Massages:

As part of this technique, consider adding lid massages to enhance its effectiveness:

  • After applying the warm compress, perform gentle lid massages. Use clean fingers to apply light pressure along the eyelids in circular motions. This helps in releasing oils from the glands and improving their flow, aiding in maintaining healthy eye moisture.

Benefits of warm compress:

Warm compresses offer several benefits, especially for those experiencing dry eyes:

  • Enhanced Blood Circulation: The warmth aids in improving blood circulation around the eyes, promoting relaxation and comfort.
  • Moisturising Effect: The gentle heat helps in opening the oil glands in the eyelids, facilitating the release of natural oils to keep the eyes moist.
  • Relief from Eye Discomfort: It provides soothing relief from dryness, irritation, and discomfort caused by dry eyes or eye strain.
  • Reduced Eyelid Inflammation: For conditions like blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction, warm compresses can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms.

Pencil Push-Ups

Pencil Push-Ups Exercise for Convergence Insufficiency:

Pencil push-ups (PPT) are eye exercises commonly used for convergence insufficiency (CI) treatment. They involve focusing on an object (often a pencil) moved at varying distances to enhance convergence ability [3].

Materials Needed: A pencil or similar object with distinct markings, held vertically.


  1. Preparation: Sit comfortably in a well-lit area. Hold the pencil vertically at arm's length, aligning it with your nose.
  2. Initial Focus: Concentrate on the topmost tip of the pencil. Ensure clarity without any blurriness or doubling of the image.
  3. Slow Movement: Without moving your head, gradually bring the pencil closer to the bridge of your nose. Maintain focused attention on the pencil's tip throughout this movement.
  4. Reversal Point: When double vision occurs, slowly move the pencil away from your nose until the image becomes singular and clear again.
  5. Repetition: Repeat this process 10-15 times per session. 
  6. Interval and Relaxation: After each session or every few repetitions, take a brief one-minute break to rest your eyes.
  7. Final Step - Distance Viewing: Conclude the exercise session by looking at a distant object, such as staring out of a window or focusing on an object in the distance. This helps relax the eyes after the near work involved in the exercise.
  8. Frequency: Perform this exercise for several sessions each day, aiming to gradually improve convergence ability.

Remember: Engage actively in the exercise, focusing on maintaining a single, clear image of the pencil's tip as it moves closer and farther. 


  • Strengthen eye muscles responsible for near vision.
  • Improve eye coordination and focusing ability.
  • Enhance flexibility in the eye muscles, allowing smoother transitions between near and far vision.

When It's Beneficial:

Pencil Push-Ups are Particularly Beneficial:

  • As a part of a vision therapy program recommended by an eye care professional for conditions like convergence insufficiency or other eye coordination issues.
  • As a preventive measure to maintain good eye health, especially for those frequently engaged in near-focused tasks.

Performing this exercise regularly, along with other eye relaxation techniques, can contribute to better eye health and comfort during activities that demand prolonged near vision.

Always consider seeking advice from an eye care professional if you experience persistent discomfort or vision issues.

Taking Care of Your Vision

Prioritising your eye health is crucial for overall well-being. Incorporating these simple exercises, from conscious blinking to focused techniques like pencil push-ups, can significantly ease eye strain caused by prolonged screen use or daily tasks that demand intense visual focus. Remember, nurturing your eyes should be a priority.

If you have persistent eye strain, dry eyes or blurred vision make an appointment with your eye doctor. You can book a bulk billed eye test with our optometrist online or call us at 03 9702 9118.


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