Eye strain, known as asthenopia, happens due to ocular fatigue. Irritation (can) occur due to looking at something for an extended period of time. This may result in headaches, blurred vision, and eye strain. Eye strain is not a disease but a symptom and can signal an undiagnosed eye condition requiring immediate treatment.
When eye muscles are pressured by overuse, eye strain increases. For example, trying to read or see something in dim light, watching T.V. at a short distance, or using digital devices excessively. Eye strain is more commonly experienced by people who use electronic devices for prolonged periods of time compared to those who do not use them. Similarly, in today’s digital age, the most likely cause of eye strain is the excessive use of digital devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones — commonly known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain.
Eye strain diagnosis is made by a trained ophthalmologist or optometrist based on the patient’s history. Symptoms of eye strain can include:
- Headaches: Mild intensity headaches are the most predictable symptom of eye strain resulting in pain in the front or side of the head. These headaches have surprisingly different patterns and are usually experienced at the end of the day.
- Blurry, hazy vision: Not being able to see the words on a screen is a warning sign of eye fatigue. Work efficiency may also be directly affected as a result of this.
- Dryness and discomfort in eyes: Every time you blink, the moisture on the ocular surface is cleaned and refreshed. However, while staring at a screen, a person’s blink rate drops dramatically, and the tears in the eye evaporate, resulting in dry, strained eyes.
- Sore back and neck: If the eyes are not able to focus on the visual task at hand, people tend to change their body postures. This can result in a stiff neck or back.
- Double vision: As there is a lot of eye movement — from the screen to the keyboard, keyboard to the paperwork, and back again — the ability to lock eyes in one place for a computer user becomes difficult, resulting in double vision.
- Difficult to focus and concentrate on objects: Staring at a point on the screen for a long time can reduce one’s ability to maintain focus, leading to blurred vision and mild headaches.
- Light sensitivity: The amount of light (natural or artificial) that reaches the eye is controlled by the eyeballs. However, extended exposure to light, too bright or too dim light, and the contrast with dim and bright screens all can adversely affect the visual system.
Eye fatigue and dry eyes often go hand in hand, occurring due to the same root cause. Some of the common causes of eye strain include:
- Prolonged use of digital device screens: Many people must complete tasks on a computer or other digital screen, which means less blinking, fewer breaks, and more eye discomfort. In turn, this causes the tears on the ocular surface to dry up, resulting in dry eye syndrome. Extended exposure to blue light from a digital screen can cause discomfort in some patients.
- Reading without taking a break: People who read without pausing to rest their eyes are more likely to experience eye strain.
- Driving for long hours: Driving requires complete focus; driving continuously for a long period of time can put intense strain on the eyes. On long road trips, rotating between drivers can significantly help.
- Inadequately lit environment: Being in either too dim or too bright of a lighting environment can cause eye strain when using a digital screen device. Therefore background lighting should be in contrast with the screen light to avoid any stress to the eyes.
- Direct exposure to hot or cold air: Being directly exposed to hot or cold moving air can dry up your eyes, causing discomfort.
- Uncorrected vision: People who have uncorrected vision or wear glasses with an incorrect prescription have a higher chance of getting strained eyes.
- Stress and fatigue: People who are tense and stressed have more chances of being affected by eye strain.
Blue Light Glasses
Blue light glasses are specifically designed to filter out the harmful blue-violet light rays that are commonly emitted from digital screens. These glasses have filtering materials or surface coatings on the lenses that block a portion of blue light. Many times, these glasses are also treated to prevent glare to further lessen eye strain.
Blue light glasses can be a great solution whether you are wearing them during your office hours, playing with your game console at night, or watching your favorite television series. We offer prescription and non-prescription blue light glasses — get them at our optical shop!
Other Ways to Reduce Eye Strain
To combat eye strain effects, our ophthalmologists and optometrists recommend the following tips to help relieve and prevent eye strain.
- Take frequent breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: When you are doing intensive work, try taking a break every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. These occasional breaks will let your eyes rest and refresh for a while.
- Adjust lighting: Make sure to avoid dim and low lights and try to position yourself so that the light falls on your screen. Moreover, look for more natural light resources such as sunlight.
- Keep your distance: Sit at an arm’s length from your screen and place it in a manner so that you don’t have to look up at the screen; instead, try placing it downwards.
- Limit screen time: It is highly important to limit screen time for children, as excessive exposure can lead to eye problems at a young age.
- Use artificial tear substitutes: Over-the-counter artificial tears help ease the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Visit Hill Vision Services: If you experience symptoms such as dry eyes, headaches, or blurry vision, request an appointment with our top-rated professional doctors for personalized treatment.