Blogmas, shmogmas: thanks to an awkward combination of all the time-sensitive things, I seem to have managed twice my usual number of blog posts this week.
Which is all well and good – assuming people are actually reading them, of course – but it does mean I’ve been spending much more time staring at screens than is really good for me.
I’ve long joked that I need a hobby that does not involve writing: I’m glued to a screen for most of my traditional working day, then come home to do the same for a hefty chunk of my evenings and weekends. As deadlines begin to pile up, I’m prone to dry eyes and the occasional migraine – which cuts further into my working time, compounding the problem. And I don’t know about you, but I find the problem even worse in the winter months: when it’s dark outside and you’re labouring under fluorescent lights, the glare of a screen can be even more of an irritant and there’s no chance of natural daylight from a window to give your eyes a bit of a break.
With all that as a backdrop, I was pretty damn grateful to be sent a couple of new products from Optrex for review that are specifically designed to soothe and treat tired eyes. The self-heating Optrex Warming Eye Mask* is an innovative 10 minute treatment that is a great wee de-stresser too, while the Optrex ActiMist 2 in 1 Eye Spray* provides handbag-sized, instant relief to tired, dry eyes.
Let’s start with the mask, because it’s a fab little product that’s nothing like anything else I’ve ever come across. Individually wrapped, making it easy to slip one in your bag if you know you’ve got a tough day ahead, the paper mask starts to warm up when opened – and the fact that you get a good 10 minutes of heat from it pretty much forces you to take a proper screen break.
Let’s face it, I was hardly going to get any writing done with one of these stuck on my face.
The mask uses something called Microsteam technology to create a gentle, warming sensation, although the steam itself can’t be seen by the naked eye. It starts to heat up immediately upon opening but takes a few minutes to reach optimum temperature – weirdly, I found the process of it heating up to be even more relaxing than the straightforward mask. It’s a bit of a cumbersome shape, given the heat cells or whatever that it has to hold, but it’s not as though that’s something you’ll be aware of once you properly lie back and ease into it.
Since I almost always have music on while I work, I chose to enjoy the mask in complete silence – but for those of you who need something to help you properly zone out, Optrex has commissioned sound engineer and former DJ Ash Sargeant to create a soothing playlist based on field recordings of stressful sounds from everyday life. This one, which began as traffic noises and taxi horns, is a work of art.
While the mask worked exactly as advertised, one thing that did suprise me was the price: £3.99 for two or £9.99 for an eight-pack, making this a really affordable luxury for my fellow keyboard warriors. The unscented version, which was what I tried, can be found in pharmacies across the UK – but there’s also a lavender-scented variant, exclusive to Boots, for that full-on home spa experience.
The dry eye spray I was a little more cynical about, especially when after reading the instructions I realised that it’s not meant to be sprayed into the eyes at all (what, I thought it was like eye drops, okay?). Instead, the product should be sprayed at arm’s length onto closed eyelids – which can make for a bit of a disaster if you’re not aiming properly…
The spray helps to repair the eye’s natural oily layer of tear film, which can easily be disturbed by staring at a screen for too long or by other environmental factors, like air conditioning or central heating. It can be used up to four times a day, and can be used without disturbing contact lenses or makeup. I was mega cynical about this but no, it’s actually true.
While I’m still not completely convinced of the science behind this one, the spray has been an absolute godsend this past week in particular, and now lives on my desk at work. While part of that may be psychsomatic and I’d certainly dispute the “lasts for up to four hours” claims on the packaging – maybe if I was better at taking screen breaks – I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you too find your eyes burning a little by mid-afternoon. Priced at £15.31 from the likes of Boots and Superdrug it’s a bit more of an investment than the masks, but it’s a decent-sized bottle and should last you right through until the evenings start lightening up again.
Have you tried either of these products? Do you have any tips for dealing with dry eyes (that don’t involve switching off your computer and heading home two hours early)?
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.