WITH the exam season is full swing, the University of Reading has identified an easy way of helping to reduce stress.
Eyestrain affects five to eight percent of the population and is a common problem when revising, especially when students rely on laptops or tablets for their work.
Simple eye exercises, devised by the University, can help to reduce stress and to keep eyes healthy.
Dr Anna Horwood, lead researcher and an orthoptist in the University’s Department of Psychology, found that eyestrain could be reduced by up to 15% by completing ‘at-home’ exercises, rather than relying on prescribed medication.
Students who usually suffer from eyestrain during the exam period should be reassured by this research, and not reach for expensive medicines as a solution.
Prescribed medicine may also fail to work immediately and, therefore, may not be as effective as simple eye exercises.
The University provides the following advice for students:
Everyone should be able to converge their eyes (pull both eyes inwards to focus on something close) at least 10cm away from their nose.
Take regular breaks when revising, and refrain from using a phone or a laptop to relax with. This will only make eyestrain worse. Try closing your eyes, look outside, or up at the ceiling instead.
Make sure to work in good light and with good posture.
Dr Horwood said: “This time of year is particularly stressful for students and parents. Eye strain or tired eyes can be very disconcerting, while trips to the opticians or the hospital, or even just remembering to undertake complicated exercises, are unwanted distractions during exam time.
“Through two studies we aimed to discover when and how eye care professionals should be called upon and which types of eye exercises could benefit students the most.
“Our research showed that symptoms may occur just from studying too long, when tired, in bad light or simply because the work is being found to be difficult. So revising students should not worry as issues are not necessarily related to specific eye problems.”