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Eye Strain Explained: Symptoms, Causes, and Effective Solutions

Gina Walters



In today’s digital age, the constant exposure to screens and electronic devices has led to increased eye strain problems.

Eye strain, also called Asthenopia, is a common issue many people experience. 

It occurs when the eyes are subjected to prolonged screen time or visually demanding activities, leading to discomfort and fatigue. 

Eye strain caused by digital screen exposure is also known as digital eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. 

This article discusses eye strain and its causes, symptoms, prevention, and remedies to promote a healthier vision.

Eye strain symptoms

Eye strain can manifest through various symptoms, indicating discomfort or fatigue in the eyes. Typical signs and side effects of eye strain include:

Recognizing these symptoms is important to address and prevent eye strain. 

Don’t ignore the signs of eye strain — Read: How to Identify and Treat Eye Strain Symptoms?

The symptoms of eye strain may resemble other eye conditions, so it’s best to speak with your ophthalmologist for diagnosis.

Causes of eye strain

watery eyesSource: pixelshot
Woman using laptop suffering from eye strain

Eye strain usually stems from excessive screen use, poor lighting, and uncorrected vision issues. 

The daily use of digital screens is the most common cause of eye strain. 

The Vision Council reports that more than 80% of individuals in the United States use digital screens for more than 2 hours everyday. 

As a result, individuals often develop eye strain from playing video games, or using their phones and tablets too much.  

Extended screen time reduces blinking, affecting the tear layer that maintains a smooth corneal surface and sharp vision. 

Insufficient blinking increases exposure to air, causing tear film gaps, corneal irregularities, and blurred vision. 

In addition, eye strain can also develop from the following causes:

  • Tasks that require focused visual effort, such as sewing, detailed work, or long hours of driving
  • Brightly lit environments or poor lighting 
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep can also cause eye strain
  • Uncorrected vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • Underlying health conditions, such as dry eye syndrome, eye muscle imbalance, or binocular vision problems

Besides too much screen usage, can you also get eye strain due to insufficient sleep? Read Does Lack of Sleep Cause Eye Strain? Know the Facts

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How long does eye strain last

The duration of eye strain varies depending on individual circumstances, severity, and the underlying causes.

Mild cases of eye strain caused by extended screen time or lack of sleep resolve within a few hours to a day after sufficient rest. 

However, severe eye strain caused by uncorrected vision problems or extended exposure to strain-inducing activities can persist for multiple days or even longer. 

Consulting an eye health professional is advisable for persistent discomfort.

Don’t let eye strain persist! Seek relief —- Read: Eye Strain Relief: Effective Ways to Minimize Eye Strain

Persistent eye strain may increase the risk of developing various eye conditions, potentially leading to poor eyesight

Treatment of eye strain

eye exerciseSource: irynakhabliuk
Woman doing eye exercise for eye strain relief

Managing eye strain usually requires implementing various self-care techniques to relieve discomfort. Here is a list of ways to treat eye strain:

Rest the eyes: Take breaks while using screens. Follow the 20-20-20 rule, which encourages taking breaks every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Proper lighting: Ensure sufficient lighting while using screens or reading. Avoid glare by adjusting screen brightness or using anti-glare filters.

Adjust your posture: Maintain proper posture and adjust computer screens to eye level to reduce strain on the eyes and neck.

Reduce screen time: Limit your screen usage and consider using blue light filters or special glasses to minimize eye strain from digital devices.

Blinking exercises: Eye strain exercises, such as regular blinking and palming the eyes helps  keep the eyes moist and reduces dryness.

Use artificial tears: Artificial eye drops can help relieve dryness and irritation caused by prolonged screen use or dry environments.

Vision correction: Consult an eye specialist for weak eyesight and wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, as suggested by your doctor.

Regular eye exams: Schedule routine eye check-ups to ensure your vision is up-to-date and to detect any underlying eye conditions contributing to eye strain.

Eye strain bothering you? Learn how to manage it! Read: Exploring Effective Eye Strain Remedies

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Summing up

Eye strain, or Asthenopia, occurs due to prolonged exertion of the eyes.

It arises from long-term screen time, insufficient lighting, uncorrected vision issues, and concentrated visual tasks. 

Symptoms of eye strain include soreness, dry or watery eyes, headaches, and blurred vision. 

Preventive measures like taking breaks, adjusting lighting, and seeking regular eye care help reduce strain. 

Chronic strain may signal underlying eye conditions, such as dry eye syndrome.

Managing screen time and addressing vision problems is essential to reduce eye strain and ensure optimal eye health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does eye strain feel like?

Eye strain feels like discomfort, fatigue, soreness, or eye aching. It can also cause headaches, blurry vision, and difficulty focusing.

Can eye strain cause floaters?

Eye strain doesn’t directly cause floaters. They usually occur due to changes in the eye’s vitreous humor or other underlying eye conditions.

Can eye strain last for days?

Yes, eye strain can last for days, especially if factors causing strain persist. These factors may include prolonged screen use without breaks or uncorrected vision issues.

Does eye strain damage vision?

Prolonged or severe eye strain may temporarily impair vision clarity, but it usually does not cause permanent harm. However, if not treated properly, underlying disorders may worsen.

Can eye strain affect your balance?

While eye strain does not directly influence balance, it can cause headaches and blurry vision, which may impact balance in some people.

Why do my eyes feel heavy and tired all the time?

Heavy and tired eyes often result from prolonged screen use, insufficient breaks, poor lighting, or uncorrected vision issues like astigmatism or farsightedness.

Is eye strain bad?

Eye strain isn’t inherently harmful. However, extended or frequent cases of eye strain can cause discomfort, reduce productivity, and affect daily activities.

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