How Does An Artist Prevent or Reduce Eyestrain?

I find that, as an artist who can expend much time in focusing and concentrating on the details of my projects, that I must guard my eyes from the strain that such involved artwork can entail. Although eyestrain can often be avoided, when I am swept away into an inspired mood I sometimes do not notice headaches or fatigue until after I have finished my artistic efforts for the day.

General fatigue and eyestrain can cause headaches, eye pain or discomforts, or blurry vision. I consider good sight as essential to a visual artist and I am mindful that extended exposure to eyestrain can lead one to increasing myopia or astigmatism. Years ago, my family opthamologist took the trouble to carefully explain to us that even reading or doing detailed work while running high fevers can be cause for the development of eyestrain and astigmatism.

When my eyes tire from extended use, or my eyesight is not as sharp as it had been at the start of my painting project, I immediately take a short break from my project and gaze at some distant object. I follow the rule of 20-20, which advises us to give our eyes a 20 second rest after every 20 minutes of concentration on a task.

To further relax my eyes, I do gentle massaging around the eyes, and follow up with simple “palming” exercises, which also relaxes my eyes. “Palming” simply involves placing the warmed palms of my hands over my closed eyelids for a few minutes to block out all sense of light. As an artist who enjoys being out and about with an easel project, I consider palming to be a convenient exercise because it can be performed almost anywhere.


Charity Goodwin, Artist


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