Most adults are no strangers to stress! With long work hours, staring at screens and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, our eyes are likely feeling the strain. Stressing our eyes can lead to some uncomfortable symptoms of eye strain. The good news is that eye strain is not super serious, albeit annoying. There are ways to prevent, treat and manage the strain and stress!
Some of the symptoms of eye strain could include:
- Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes.
- Eye twitching.
- Watery or dry eyes.
- Red eyes.
- Blurred or double vision.
- Sore neck, shoulders or back.
- Increased sensitivity to light.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open.1
Typically, these symptoms are not super severe, however, could be annoying to an individual experiencing them.
There are many causes of eye strain such as:
- Decreased blink rate
- Looking at digital device screens
- Reading without pausing to rest your eyes
- Driving long distances and doing other activities involving extended focus
- Being exposed to bright light or glare
- Straining to see in very dim light
- Having an underlying eye problem, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error)
- Being stressed or fatigued
- Being exposed to dry moving air from a fan, heating or air-conditioning system2
The good news is that there are some easy remedies to relieve eye strain. Here are some of our tips to de-stress and keep your eyes healthy!
- Adjust the lighting. Softer light can be beneficial when watching TV. When reading, try having the light behind you, or at least try to use a lighting source with a shade to help keep the light out of your eyes directly.
- Blink often to refresh your eyes. People tend to blink less than usual when working at a computer. The lack of blinking can cause dry eyes since the tears that moisten your eyes are not being distributed properly across the front surface. Try to make it a habit to blink more often when looking at a monitor.
- Adjust your monitor. Place your monitor about an arm’s length away and directly in front of you so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. An adjustable chair can help position you in a comfortable spot.
- Adjust your screen settings. For easier reading and focusing, consider making the font larger and adjusting the contrast and brightness of your screen for more comfortable viewing.
- Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by looking away from your monitor. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can also reduce your screen time to help your eyes relax and refocus.
- Improve the air quality of your space. The dry Colorado air can be irritating to your eyes, so to help prevent dry eyes consider using a humidifier, adjusting the thermostat to reduce blowing air and avoiding smoke.
- Visit an optometrist. Your optometrist can give you tips about artificial tears or lubricating eye drops, whether they be over-the-counter or prescription, and which one is right for you. Your optometrist can also perform a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose underlying health conditions and/or even prescribe you corrective lenses if needed!3
Most of the time eye strain will resolve itself just by resting and relaxing your eyes, but if you are experiencing continued issues, consult your optometrist as an annual comprehensive eye examination can diagnose any underlying problems or help to correct your vision. Find an optometrist near you!