Eye Strain: What it really means for your eyes

As part of our series on eye health, we’re discussing eye strain and how it can affect our eyes.

In today’s world, we are bombarded by screens. From computers and phones to televisions and tablets, the list goes on. With a huge number of us working with technology, plus using it for our own enjoyment, it’s difficult to keep away from glaring lights. We all know the benefits of technology are immense and it’s hard to picture a world without it, but we need to remember the impact screens can have on our eyes, too.

We’ve all been there. You’re engrossed in your work, an incredible film or perhaps a gripping book on your Kindle. The hours speed past and you lose track of how long it’s been, until that uncomfortable, tired, achy feeling appears; eye strain.

But, what is eye strain?

Using a computer

Put simply, eye strain is where your eye muscles have been overworked. It isn’t purely caused by screen-usage, but the combination of harsh light and focus that is needed from your eyes when using them has a big part to play. Eye strain doesn’t necessarily cause any long-term damage to your eyes, but if you suffer from it, it can be a nuisance.

Here are some of the symptoms you may experience if you are suffering from eye strain:

  • Tired eyes
  • Tension around the eye or head
  • Itchy eyes
  • Frowning or squinting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision

How to prevent your eyes from straining

Young man at table reading on tablet

Relying so heavily on screens may make it seem impossible to avoid eye strain, but there are steps you can take to stop yourself from developing symptoms of it.

  • Take regular breaks. With so many of us working in offices, staring at computers all day, it’s easy to suffer from eye strain. Computers force your eyes to look close up at work which engages your eye muscles. To stop them getting overused, try following the 20/20/20 rule – look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This will give your eyes a much-needed break from a glaring, intrusive screen.
  • Make sure you blink. This might seem like second nature, but when we get engrossed in something it is easy to forget to blink enough to keep our eyes lubricated. By consciously blinking more, our eyes will get the coating they need to stop them feeling dry or irritated.
  • Sometimes, even blinking isn’t enough. Environmental factors such as air-conditioning or central heating can cause dry eyes. If that’s the case, then eye-drops or mists are great for refreshing your eyes when they need it. We also have a specialist dry eye treatment – BlephEx, which treats dry, gritty, watery and sore eyes. Make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods rich in omega-3 to combat uncomfortable eyes.
  • Because of our lifestyle, eye strain from screen use isn’t going to go away, so we need things that will make it easier for us. There is a new lens technology, Eyezen, which has created lenses specifically for computer and device use. It works by using a boost in the bottom of the lens that relaxes the eye when you’re using devices, and is available in 4 strengths. It’s so good, we’ve all got a pair here at the practice!

If you already wear glasses or contact lenses and have noticed your eyes straining, then first try and follow the above methods to help prevent symptoms occurring. If the feeling persists or you notice an increase in eye strain, then it may be beneficial to book an appointment to have your eyes tested by one of our qualified optometrists. They will be able to see if there have been any changes in your vision and offer helpful advice accordingly.

We can help with eye strain at our practice

If you’re concerned about your eye health generally, eye strain specifically, or you simply want further advice or checks, then our experienced team are on hand to help you. You can arrange an appointment with a Richard Petrie optometrist online here who will be happy to talk through your concerns, or call us now on 01332 291010.

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