BewiseHealthwise : 20 - 20 - 20 Rule to get relief from Asthenopia


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Asthenopia (aesthenopia) or eye strain is an ophthalmological condition that manifests itself through nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, pain in or around the eyes, blurred vision, headache and occasional double vision. Symptoms often occur after reading, computer work, or other close activities that involve tedious visual tasks.

When concentrating on a visually intense task, such as continuously focusing on a book or computer monitor, the ciliary muscle tightens. This can cause the eyes to get irritated and uncomfortable. Giving the eyes a chance to focus on a distant object at least once an hour usually alleviates the problem.

A CRT computer monitor with a low refresh rate (<70Hz) or a CRT television can cause similar problems because the image has a visible flicker. Aging CRTs also often go slightly out of focus, and this can cause eye strain. LCDs do not go out of focus and are less susceptible to visible flicker.


Sometimes, asthenopia (aesthenopia) can be due to specific visual problems, such as uncorrected refractive errors or abnormal binocular vision problems like accommodative insufficiency  , convergence insufficiency or heterophoria.

Eye Exercises to relieve Eye strains

Important notice: Following exercises are general in nature & does not have consensus of all medical fraternity of its real benefits.

Exercising your eyes are just as important if not more important than exercising your body, if you don’t exercise your eyes you are in danger of losing sight later in life and more likely to suffer from eye strain in the mean time. We’ve compiled an exhaustive list of eye exercises, mostly tailored to those suffering from eye strain but applicable to anybody suffering from eye conditions or just wanting to strengthen their eyes. We suggest trying a few of them and then sticking with the ones which give you the most relief.

1. Palming

  • Rub your hands together until warm (approximately 15 to 30 seconds). Cup your hands and then place them over your closed eyes, ensuring to make sure your nose stays uncovered. Your fingers should overlap and rest gently on the center of your forehead.
  • Make sure no light is able to enter your eyes, you may still see lingering traces of colors.
  • After two or three minutes you should see nothing but blackness, remove your palms from your eyes. Repeat the above steps if necessary.

2. Near-Far Focus

  • Hold your thumb six inches (15 centimeters) from your nose.
  • Use your eyes to focus on the tip of your thumb.
  • Take one or two deep breaths and exhale slowly.
  • Focus on any object approximately 10 feet (3 meters) away.
  • Take another one or two deep breaths and slowly exhale.
  • Repeat the above steps 10-20 times.

3. Closing The Eyes

  • Close your eyes tightly for 3-5 seconds
  • Open your eyes for 3-5 seconds
  • Repeat 8-12 times

4.  Scanning

  • Sit or stand at the end of a room.
  • Use your eyes to scan around the edge of the objects in the room (monitor, desk, mouse, television, door etc).
  • Remember to breathe.
  • The object is to keep your eyes moving in a fluid motion.
  • Do for two minutes and then repeat two or three times.

5. Massage Your Eyes

  • Wash your hands.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Massage your eyes using circular motions, ensuring you press very gently to avoid any damage.
  • Continue for 1-2 minutes, repeat the above steps after a five or ten minute break.

6.  Hydrotherapy

  • Get two bowls of water, one hot (not so hot that it burns you) and one ice cold (get directly from the refrigerator or get tap water and add some ice cubes).
  • Put a wash cloth in each bowl.
  • Place the wash cloth from the hot bowl onto your closed eyes for 30 seconds.
  • Place the wash cloth from the ice bowl onto your closed eyes for 30 seconds.
  • Continue to alternate between the hot and cold bowls. For a total of 2-3 minutes.
  • Finish by using eye exercise number 5 (massage the eyes), this time using a dry towel.
  • This is the same method elite athletes use after intense workouts and matches. (except they alternate between hot and cold spa’s/baths which help the whole body)

7. Roll Your Eyes

  • Sit down and relax.
  • Roll your eyes clockwise and then counter clockwise.
  • Blink
  • Repeat 5-10 times

8. Head Rolls

  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  • During your exhale drop your chin to your chest slowly, making sure to relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Inhale deeply again, as you do slowly roll your head around to the left, then back. Make sure you keep your shoulders still and relaxed.
  • Make your movements slowly, deliberately and carefully.
  • Now exhale as you roll your head to the other side and down to your chest again.
  • Repeat this twice and then change directions and repeat twice more.
  • This exercise will mainly relax your neck, head and face muscles which are all symptoms of eye strain.

9. Fingers On The Eyes

  • Press three fingers gently on your upper eyelids
  • Hold them there for 2-3 seconds and then release.
  • Repeat 5-8 times.

10. Imagine A Big Clock:

  • Imagine you are standing in front of a huge clock.
  • Look at the very center of the clock.
  • Look at any hour mark on the clock without turning your head.
  • Look back at the very center of the clock.
  • Look at another different hour mark on the clock without turning your head.
  • Continue this until you’ve looked at all twelve hour marks.
  • To mix things up this exercise can also be done with your eyes closed.

11. Hold The Pencil

  • Hold a pencil arms length in front of you.
  • Move your arm slowly towards your nose.
  • Follow the tip of the pencil with your eyes until you can no longer keep it in focus.
  • Repeat up to 10 times.

12. Up Down Eye Movements

  • Face forwards.
  • Without moving your head focus your eyes as high as they can go.
  • Then slowly move your eye line down to as low as they can go, without moving your head.
  • Repeat above 8-10 times.
  • Do the same exercise, but instead of the up/down movement instead do a side to side movement.

13. Focus On Distance

  • Focus on an object in the distance (more than150 feet or 50 meters away) for several seconds.
  • Refocus your eyes on a closer object (within 30 feet or 10 meters away) for several seconds. It’s important that this closer object is in the same eyeline as the distance object.
  • Then slowly focus again on the distance object.
  • Repeat this 5 times.

We hope the above eye exercises have helped to improve any soreness you may be suffering from due to eye strain. It’s a good eye to continue these exercises even when you are not experiencing the symptoms of eye strain as this will make you less susceptible to it in the future. The above exercises have also been shown to have show improvement in those with bad vision.