Give It A Rest
The muscles of the eye, just like any other muscle in the body, can tire from overuse. Any discomfort caused in your eyes by excessive wear and tear is collectively referred to as eye strain.
In most cases, eye strain is not a serious medical condition and usually goes away once the eyes are given adequate rest.
There are many possible causes of eye strain. Eye strain occurs when your eyes get tired from long hours of driving, reading, exposure to bright light or straining to see in dim light.
Stress and fatigue are also significant risk factors for eye strain. Finally, underlying eye problems such as eye muscle imbalances or uncorrected vision should also be considered when experiencing eye fatigue.
However, using computers and digital electronic devices such as cell phones are one of the most commonly reported causes of eye fatigue. This type of eye strain is called computer vision syndrome.
Several factors increase the likelihood of CVS, including dry eyes, glare on the screen, poor lighting, poor posture and even the angle of the monitor. Another big factor is incorrect prescriptions in your glasses.
Symptoms of Eye Strain
Eye strain or eye fatigue is prevalent in well over 50 percent of the working population. The symptoms of eye strain vary from person to person. However, most people who are experiencing mild eye strain complain of sore, tired dry and burning eyes, blurring or double vision and also an increased sensitivity to light. Headaches, neck, shoulder or back pain due to poor posture for a prolonged period are also common symptoms associated with eye strain.
Generally, the treatment of eye strain starts with identifying the underlying cause. In some cases, correcting vision problems with prescription lenses will reduce the symptoms. In other cases, modifying work habits or environmental factors will be necessary.
Prevention Of Eye Strain
Usually eye strain can be prevented or reduced by making simple changes in your work habits or environment.
- Make changes to your computer screen. The screen should be about an arm’s length away and positioned directly in front of your face, not off to the side. Position the monitor so its centre is about 15 -20 cms below your eyes, which allows the neck to relax while you read and type.
- Regularly clean off dust and fingerprints from the screen. Smudges on the screen can reduce contrast and increase problems with glare and reflections.
- Choose screens that tilt and swivel.
- Consider using a glare filter over your screen.
- Change lighting to reduce glare and harsh reflections. Adjusting window blinds and changing the screen contrast and brightness can help reduce glare and reflections.
- Position the light source behind you when reading printed material. This will avoid having the light glaring directly into your eyes.
- However, avoid lighting directly behind or above a computer screen.
- In order to avoid high contrast between the screen and the surrounding environment don’t watch TV or work on a computer in a dark room.
- Use an adjustable chair.
- Place a document holder next to your computer screen.
Take Care Of Those Tired Eyes
- Apply a flannel soaked in warm water to tired, dry eyes (with eyes closed).
- To help prevent dry eyes while working indoors, consider using an air cleaner to filter dust and a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Ensure air vents or fans aren’t blowing on your face.
- Try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away – ideally to the horizon or infinity – or at least six metres in front of you for 20 seconds.
- Try eye exercises. Keep the head steady and stretch the eyes by looking from side-to-side, upwards, downwards, and cross ways. Clockwise and counter-clockwise circular movements are also good. All eye movements need to be done slowly and smoothly. Do each exercise three times.
- If driving, try wearing polarised sunglasses which will reduce glare and prevent tired eyes due to exposure to excessive sunlight.
- Stick a note that says ‘blink’ on the computer as a reminder. Blinking frequently can prevent dry eyes. If that doesn’t work, consider using lubricating eye drops available from our Auckland optometry practices.
- Try computer glasses. Unlike everyday eye wear, they’re designed specifically for looking at computer screens. We stock a wide range of computer glasses at both our Henderson Optometrists and our Newmarket Optometrists in Auckland.
- Take regular breaks from computer work.
What Can Be Done To Help Tired Eyes?
Anyone who has more than occasional discomfort from tired eyes should have a thorough eye check. If eye strain persists despite the interventions outlined above, make an appointment with one of our optometrists for a comprehensive eye check-up. Your eye strain may be related to an underlying condition such as an eye muscle imbalance. If you wear prescription glasses or lenses, recurring eye strain may be an indication that you need updated glasses or a new prescription.