01 October, 2021
As the months slip by, we get closer to the pointy end of the year for students, when exams are just around the corner. And it’s at times like these that I am happy to no longer be a student… I remember the mountains of study and revision before big exams at school and university; hours and hours spent going over notes in books and on my laptop. It almost hurts my brain just thinking about it! So, how do we look after our eyes when we are studying. Here are my top tips:
If you have glasses that have been prescribed by your optometrist, it is important that you wear them when you are studying. These glasses may have been prescribed to clear your vision, or to assist with focussing, or to allow your eyes to relax, or help with eye alignment. And all of these things are important when you are studying!
Set the appropriate working distance
When we are reading at a close distance (e.g. books, computer/laptop/tablet etc..) our eyes have to focus. The closer we hold something, the more the eyes have to focus. Thus, to reduce the strain on our eyes, it is better to hold or place our reading material at a slightly longer distance from us. To work out the closest you should hold a book, you place a closed fist under your chin and extend your elbow out. This point is the “Harmon working distance” and is the suggested closest distance to allow reading material to come.
Take regular visual breaks
As indicated above, our eyes have to focus to see clearly at a close distance. The longer we spend looking at the same close distance, the more strain we place on the eyes. Conversely, when we look into the distance, our eyes relax. Now, I am not suggesting you invest in a projector so you can study looking at a wall across the room, rather I am explaining why it is important for you to take regular breaks from looking up close. As an optometrist, I call this the 20-20(-20) rule: every 20 minutes, you should take a break for 20 seconds, and look at something 20 metres away (or far away). So, every 20 minutes lift your gaze up and out the window, or down the hallway, and let your eyes focus on something in the distance. Then you can return your focus to your study again.
Evidence tells us that time spent outside is important in reducing the risk of myopia (short-sightedness) progression. The recommendation is to spend 2 hours outside each day. So, even if you are taking regular visual breaks, following the 20-20(-20) rule, it is still important to get outside, and with the winter months behind us there should be no excuses!
Go see your optometrist
If you are experiencing sore or tired eyes, double or blurry vision, or headaches, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your local optometrist for an eye examination.
Our contact lens provider Alcon is experiencing delays fulfilling orders due to a cyber-security incident involving their freight partner, Toll Group. These delays are across their entire network of optical retailers in Australia. We apologise for an inconvenience caused and encourage you to contact your local EyeQ practice for any urgent requirements.