Headaches, Blurry Vision, and More: How To Reduce Eye Strain

Tue, Jul 19, 2022

Headaches, Blurry Vision, and More: How To Reduce Eye Strain

Do you work at a computer, stare at a tablet, read a lot, make long drives, or play video games? If so, then chances are you’re probably not a stranger to eye strain resulting from intense eye use. In fact, eye strain has become so common because of the use of digital devices that it’s often referred to as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

If you’re affected and wondering how to reduce eye strain, the ophthalmologists at North Carolina Specialty Hospital can help.

Headache Help And Other Solutions To Minimize Eye Strain

Overuse of the eyes causes eye strain, but why does overuse cause this distress? There are several reasons:

A male eye doctor helps a young woman standing in front of an eye exam chart choose glasses to help reduce eye strain.

  • Muscle fatigue:
    • The ciliary body is a focusing muscle inside the eye that lets us focus on objects near us. When we focus, the muscle contracts and the lens gets thicker. The longer we focus, the muscle doesn’t get a chance to relax, which causes fatigue and stress.
    • The extraocular muscles are a set of six muscles per eye. Two of them, the medial recti, help you focus on nearby objects by converging your eyes inward so they don’t see double. This causes the muscles to contract, and if they stay that way for a long time, they become fatigued and feel strained.
  • Blinking:
    • When we focus on one object for a long period of time, we reduce our blinks. Blinks redistribute and replenish the tear film layer that smooths the cornea surface, helping sharpen your vision. Less blinking means the eye’s surface is exposed to more air and evaporation, leaving holes in the tear layer and leading to irregularities of the corneal surface and causing blurred vision.
  • Eye movement:
    • Constant extended periods of focused movements, such as typing a document and looking back and forth between a paper and your keyboard/monitor, can cause strain. This can also make your brain feel tired.

Plus, there are environmental and physical conditions that can contribute to overuse, such as:

  • Glare:
    • Uncontrolled brightness from computer monitors, tablets, fluorescent lighting, and the sun enters our eyes and interferes with their ability to manage it because it is above the intensity our eyes can handle. Conversely, when it’s too dim to see, it’s hard for the eyes to focus, causing fatigue and stress.
  • Poor posture:
    • When working at the computer, many people unknowingly adopt “forward head posture” to help them see the screen better. This position adds more weight to supporting your head to keep it from falling into your upper body, putting pressure on the nerves at the base of the skull. This can cause fatigue and pain. The posture also interferes with how light is transmitted from the optic nerve to your brain, making it harder to process and focus on what you see.
  • Dry eye:
    • Dry eye is a condition where you don’t produce enough tears, which leads to inflammation and damage to the eye’s surface and discomfort and stress to the eye (similar to what can happen when you don’t blink enough).
  • Allergies:
    • Discomfort from allergies can increase eye strain.
  • Uncorrected vision:
    • If you don’t have the right prescription or don’t know you need one, your eyes will need to work harder to read.
  • Environment:
    • Sitting near circulating air or outside on a windy day may expose your eyes to more air and evaporation, causing problems similar to those that happen to the corneal surface by lack of blinking.

Any of these underlying causes and situations make it harder to read, which contributes to eye discomfort and stress.

What Are The Symptoms Of Eye Strain?

Symptoms of eye strain may include:

  • Dry, red, burning, or irritated eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Aching eyelids or inability to keep eyes open
  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble focusing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Eye or eyelid muscle spasms

How To Minimize Eye Strain

Steps you can take to reduce eye strain and headaches include:

  • Resting your eyes
    • Try to rest 15 minutes after every two hours of computer work
    • Or follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
  • Enlarging the text you read
  • Placing your screen about an arm’s length away from your eyes and also so that the center is about four to five inches below eye level
  • Remembering to blink to keep your eyes moist and also to use lubricating eye drops
  • Watching your posture and putting your chair at the right height so your eyes rest comfortably on the floor
  • Getting checked for a new prescription lens strength
  • Treating dry eye conditions with a prescription
  • Staying hydrated
  • Moving out of drafts
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relief for headaches and treating allergies

When Should You Visit Your Eye Doctor?

If symptoms persist after trying these treatments, it’s wise to visit your ophthalmologist, especially to have your vision checked and to make sure that you don’t have another eye health problem that needs treatment.

See A North Carolina Specialty Hospital Ophthalmologist For Eye Strain Help

As your most trusted health provider in North Carolina since 1926, trust your eyes with North Carolina Specialty Hospital. Our board-certified ophthalmologists will get to the bottom of your eye problem and determine how to stop eye strain and discomfort quickly.

To schedule a consultation, look on our Physicians page under Ophthalmology and click on a doctor’s photo to make an appointment from his or her personal page. Or contact us.

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