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5 treatments for tired eyes

woman at computer with tired eyes

What are tired eyes?

Tired eyes can look puffy or swollen, bloodshot or irritated. What causes tired eyes? Your eyes can look and feel tired for a number of reasons, including allergies, lack of sleep, diet and digital eye strain.

What can you do to give your tired eyes a rest? Five ways to get relief from your tired eyes include taking screen time breaks, drinking more water and getting your eyes checked.

1. Take breaks from your screens

Between TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones, screen exposure is at an all-time high, and that takes a toll on your eyes. To avoid tired eyes, take both mini and longer breaks from your computers and digital devices to allow your eyes to rest.

For mini breaks, we recommend the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the tiny muscles in your eye the chance to relax for a moment.

For longer breaks, we recommend you get up and stretch your legs, neck and back. While you do this, try closing your eyes to give them a bit of rest.

2. Avoid your allergy triggers

Allergies can wreak havoc on your eyes. How? Allergens trigger a release of histamine in the body, which causes blood vessels to dilate and your eyes and nose to feel itchy and irritated. Allergies also cause swelling, which makes your eyes look puffy and tired.

If allergies are the cause of your tired eyes, take an antihistamine — either an over-the- counter or prescription variety — to make your eyes look less puffy, red and swollen and feel less itchy. 

Avoid other allergy triggers, like driving with your windows down or spending time outdoors during allergy season, to keep your eyes from looking and feeling tired.

3. Keep your eyes hydrated

Your tired eyes may just be dry, and there are some easy things you can do to keep your eyes hydrated.

Dry eyes can be caused by several factors, including age, certain medications and too much screen time, all of which can make it difficult for your eyes to stay moist.

If your tired eyes are caused by too much time staring at your digital devices, the simple solution is to blink frequently. (See No. 1: Take breaks from your screen time.)

If blinking doesn’t make your eyes look less tired, artificial tears can offer relief and help your eyes look clearer and brighter. To learn which eye drops are best for you, consult your eye care provider for a recommendation.

The best way to hydrate your eyes is by drinking plenty of water. When your body is dehydrated, it often results in dull or tired-looking eyes and skin. 

Drinking more water is good for your eyes and your overall health.  

4. Apply warm and cool compresses

Tired eyes can often be relieved with warm and cool compresses placed on your eyes. This remedy will not only improve the appearance of your eyes, but it feels great and gives you a chance to pamper yourself.

Here’s what to do: Place a warm compress over your eyes to relax your eye muscles. Then place a cool compress on your eyes to increase the blood flow to your eyes. This reduces the swelling and puffiness and makes your eyes appear more alert and awake. 

Applying warm and cold compresses is a home remedy for tired eyes that is a quick fix. It’s only a temporary solution, though. You should address the underlying cause of your tired eyes (you may want to consult your eye care provider) and work toward a more permanent remedy.  

5. Make sure your prescription is updated

Your tired eyes may be the result of an outdated vision prescription. If it’s been a while since you had your eyes checked, find an eye care provider near you and book an appointment.

Your vision changes over time. A prescription for glasses or contact lenses that helped you to see clearly two years ago may be the source of your eye strain and tired eyes now.

Your tired eyes may also be a sign that you need glasses or contacts now, though you have never needed vision correction before.

We recommend getting a comprehensive eye exam every two years, unless you have an underlying condition that requires more frequent visits.

Your eye care provider can make sure your prescription is accurate, and they will be able to assess your tired eyes and offer some additional suggestions for relief.

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