Continuous use of your eyes when you are reading for a long time or when you go on a long drive are some of the basic reasons for eye fatigue. In the present scenario, eye strain is largely due to continuous exposure to digital screens like computers, laptops, television, iPads, etc. Eye strain symptoms surface as a signal for giving your eyes some rest.
You need not panic if you experience some of the eye strain symptoms. You are likely to have some discomfort, but it is not a serious condition. There are several simple ways to avert eye strain. Despite exercising caution and taking steps to reduce the strain, if the symptoms persist, you will have to visit an eye doctor.
What are the Causes of Eye Strain?
One of the major causes of eye strain is using a digital screen every day for extended hours. Strain due to continuous exposure to a digital screen is termed digital eye strain. According to the reports of the Vision Council, 87% of the adult population use digital devices one way or another for a minimum of 2 hours.
The Council also reported that the usage of digital devices is not limited to adults. 76.5% of American kids are exposed to digital screens for more than 2 hours a day. These children are susceptible to eye strain symptoms or other eye issues due to this continuous digital exposure.
Some other common causes of eye strain are:
- Working or being in a space that is either too dimly lit or too brightly lit
- Reduction in the number of blinks per minute
- The proximity of the digital screen
- Continuous exposure to light emitted by the digital screen or blue light
- Bad posture while viewing a digital device
What are the Eye Strain Symptoms?
Serious eye issues do not manifest overnight. Some symptoms appear, indicating the underlying problem. Some of the eye strain symptoms that indicate that your eyes need some rest are:
- Eyes feeling heavy
- Inability to keep the eyes open
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Dryness in the eyes
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Lack of concentration
- Itchiness in the eyes
- Eyes turning red
- Eyes burning
Can Eye Strain be Diagnosed?
No matter how healthy you are, regular medical checkups are recommended after a certain age to detect any underlying medical condition at the initial stages to avert further complications. Similarly, regular eye check-up is also required to detect any defect in the early stages to avoid further deterioration.
It is during these checkups that the eye strain will be detected. Your ophthalmologist will initiate the investigation by asking several questions about your activities to gauge the extent of usage. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned eye strain symptoms, you should bring it to the knowledge of your doctor to simplify the process of diagnosis. Besides all this, your doctor will also do various tests to determine the muscle imbalance or any refractive errors.
In the check-up, if eye fatigue is detected, you will be prescribed eye drops to correct the issue. Most of the time, the eye strain will disappear if you take a break in between to relax your eyes. Eye strain can also be taken care of by tweaking your lifestyle and limiting the tasks that irritate your eyes. If the eye strain persists long, medical attention will be required to avoid further deterioration.
Ways to Manage Eye Strain
Eye fatigue can be managed by making some lifestyle changes. You should be wearing proper eye gear depending on the activity you are engaged in. Also, taking short breaks between activities is essential to maintain and improve vision. You can also follow some simple tips below to manage eye strain:
1. Calibrate Lighting as per the Activity
Eye strain may result from lighting. Depending on the activity, it may be either too dark or too bright. If you’re reading or engaged in any other activity that requires intense concentration, the light should come from behind you. When watching TV, dimming the lighting may assist decrease eye fatigue.
Verify the lighting on the screens you’re using as well. If necessary, adjust the brightness. Try covering windows or filters to decrease glare on your digital device because glare can cause eyestrain.
2. Take Care While Multitasking
Sometimes, while you are working on the computer, you might have to refer to various documents to take down notes. Proper positioning of the documents is very imperative to avoid frequent movement of your eyes and neck. Using a document holder will help in adjusting the position of the documents according to your convenience.
3. Improve the Air Quality
Spending more time in a space with poor air quality can cause eye strain. If your workspace lacks fresh air or has fans, heaters or air conditioners, then there is every chance that your eyes strain. You avoid this fatigue to some extent by:
- Placing an air humidifier in the workspace
- Turning off the fans, heaters, or air conditioners.
- Or by shifting to a healthier space
4. Use Eye Drops
The number of times you blink each minute significantly reduces when you are concentrating hard, especially when looking at a screen. Less blinking can cause dryness and irritation in the eyes. Artificial tears or other eye drops can help you with this. To avoid the condition, you can also try to blink more frequently when looking at a screen.
5. Shift Focus Frequently
When you focus on one activity for an extended time without taking a break, eyestrain frequently results. Every 20 minutes, change your attention to something unrelated to the task. You should focus on anything at least 20 feet away and for at least 20 seconds at a time. The 20-20-20 rule applies here.
In addition to looking away every 20 minutes, you should try to divert from the intense activity for several hours a day whenever possible. If you must spend several hours driving or working at a screen, be sure to alternate those activities with others that require different eye functions. If you have been working for a long time on the computer, take a break and stroll in the natural light.
6. Adjust the Screen Position
Ensure that you are stationed at a suitable distance from your digital gadget. Your eyes should be a few feet or an arm’s length away from the screen. The screen should be viewed at or just slightly below eye level. You should read from handheld digital devices below eye level as well.
Another helpful technique for using digital devices is to increase the font size on the screen to your preferred level of comfort. Most likely, the settings on your device allow you to change the text size.
7. Use Proper Eye Gear
Determine whether you require special glasses to lessen eye strain by consulting your doctor. For the activity that strains your eyes, you might even require specialist glasses, equipment, or eye therapy. Your eyes may benefit from certain coatings and tints for lenses. Or you might discover that you need to reduce the time you wear contacts to give your eyes a break.
To prevent future vision issues that are more severe, it is vital to maintain good eye health. A yearly eye checkup should be scheduled with your doctor, especially if you frequently or persistently have eye strain. If you notice that you are experiencing eye strain symptoms, try the following strategies to lessen or avoid it altogether. Consult your doctor if these techniques don’t relieve your eye discomfort.