How to Give Yourself an Eye Massage

Neuromuscular Therapist Alyssa Jannakos explains why your eyes need a rubdown as much as your back.


When was the last time you gave yourself an eye massage? Probably never — it’s not something most of us ever think to do. This is strange, given that everyone who’s looked at a TV, computer screen or phone too long knows eyes can get tired and sore like any other part of the body. So do your peepers a favor by giving them a massage!

“Gently massaging the muscles [around your eyes] can help relieve soreness, pressure, and strain,” says Cognitive FX’s Alyssa Jannakos. “You can start by closing your eyes and gently placing the tips of your fingers in the space between your brow and eyeball. Very lightly apply pressure and massage the space above, below, and on the sides of the eye. I usually tell people to spend anywhere from 2-5 minutes during one session.”

That’s step one. Step two is a technique for relaxing your eyes called “palming,” where you place your (you guessed it) palms over your closed eyes, which helps alleviate light sensitivity and tension. “Be careful not to apply pressure to the eye itself, just cover it,” warns Jannakos. “At first you may see lights, colors, flashes or shapes in your vision. You should wait until those signals fade away and let your eyes relax until everything is completely dark.” Once the spots are gone, slowly remove your hands.

While these tips are especially useful when you have to (or just want to) spend all day staring at a screen, they should really just be part of your routine eye care. You use your eyes pretty much 100 percent of the time you’re awake, and that’s a lot of work. “Your eyes are constantly scanning your environment to take in the information around you and your brain has to process that information quickly in order to help you navigate through the world,” Jannakos explains. “As a result, both the eyes and the visual processing centers in the brain can become fatigued. When these systems are tired it can cause symptoms like increased pain or pressure in the head and around the eyes, as well as sensitivity to light and eye strain.” Like a computer, sometimes when these visual processing centers in your brain have been working overtime, it’s best to give them a “reset,” she adds.

If you pay attention and use these techniques regularly, you can head off these issues before they start. Jannakos suggests giving yourself a massage once or twice per day, and you can use the palming technique anytime your eyeballs begin to feel tired or overloaded. 

And if you want to cheat your way to looking a little less tired with some eye cream afterwards? Well, that seems just fine too.