Eyestrain is a typical condition that takes place when your eyes get tired from extreme use, such as while driving long distances or staring at computer screens and other digital devices.

Eyestrain can be bothersome. However it normally isn’t really major and goes away when you rest your eyes or take other actions to lower your eye pain. In many cases, symptoms and signs of eyestrain can show a hidden eye condition that requires treatment.

Symptoms of Eyestrain

Eyestrain signs and symptoms consist of:

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if self-care steps don’t eliminate your eyestrain.

Causes of Eyestrain

Common causes of eyestrain include:

  • Taking a look at digital device screens
  • Checking out without stopping briefly to rest your eyes
  • Owning cross countries and doing other activities involving extended focus
  • Being exposed to brilliant light or glare
  • Straining to see in very dim light
  • Having an underlying eye issue, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive mistake).
  • Being stressed or fatigued.
  • Exposure to dry moving air from a fan, heating or air-conditioning system.
  • Computer use.

Extended use of computers and other digital devices is among the most common causes of eyestrain. The American Optometric Association calls this computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain. People who look at screens two or more hours in a row every day are at biggest risk of this condition.

Computer use strains eyes more than checking out print product due to the fact that people tend to:

  • Blink less while using computer systems (blinking is essential to moistening the eyes).
  • View digital screens at less-than-ideal ranges or angles.
  • Use devices that have glare or reflection.
  • Use devices with poor contrast in between the text and the background.

Sometimes, an underlying eye problem, such as eye muscle imbalance or uncorrected vision, can cause or intensify computer eyestrain.

sudden eye strain

Some other factors that can make the condition even worse include:

  • Glare on your screen.
  • Poor posture.
  • Setup of your computer work station.
  • Distributing air, such as from air conditioning or a neighboring fan.


Eyestrain does not have severe or long-term consequences, but it can be irritating and unpleasant. It can make you worn out and reduce your ability to focus.


Your optometrist will ask you concerns about factors that might be causing your symptoms. She or he will perform an eye exam, including testing your vision.

Treatments and Lifestyle for Eyestrain

Normally, treatment for eyestrain consists of making modifications in your day-to-day routines or environment. Some people might need treatment for an underlying eye condition.

For some people, using glasses that are recommended for particular activities, such as using a computer or reading, helps in reducing eyestrain. Your doctor may recommend that you do regular eye exercises to assist your eyes focus at various distances.

Think about these tips to decrease or avoid eyestrain.

  • Adjust the lighting. When viewing television, it may be simpler on your eyes if you keep the space softly lit.

When checking out printed materials or doing close work, try to position the light behind you and direct the light onto your page or task. If you’re checking out at a desk, use a shaded light positioned in front of you. The shade will keep light from shining directly into your eyes.

  • Take breaks. When doing close work, take periodic breaks and alleviate muscle tension with relaxation exercises. Place your elbows on your desk, palms facing up. Let your weight fall forward and your head fall under your hands. Position your head so that your hands cover your eyes, with your fingers extended toward your forehead. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose; hold it for four seconds, then breathe out. Continue this deep breathing for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform this simple exercise a number of times a day.
  • Limit screen time. This is specifically essential for children, who might not make the connection between prolonged watching, eyestrain and the have to rest their eyes routinely.
  • Use artificial tears. Non-prescription synthetic tears can help avoid and alleviate dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel great to keep them well-lubricated and prevent a reoccurrence of symptoms.

Your doctor can recommend which drops may be best for you. Lubing drops that do not contain preservatives can be used as typically as you require. If the drops you’re using include preservatives, don’t use them more than 4 times a day. Prevent eyedrops with an inflammation cleaner, as these might aggravate dry eye symptoms.

  • Enhance the air quality of your area. Some modifications that might help avoid dry eyes include using a humidifier, changing the thermostat to minimize blowing air and avoiding smoke. If you smoke, think about stopping. Moving your chair to a different area may help in reducing the amount of dry moving air on your eyes and face.
  • Choose the right glasses for you. If you need glasses or contacts and work at a computer, consider investing in glasses or contact lenses designed particularly for computer work. Ask your eye doctor about lens coverings and tints that may help too.

If you drive long distances, consider using sunglasses with polarized lenses and UV defense.

Tips for computer work

Computer use is a typical reason for eyestrain. If you operate at a desk and use a computer, these self-care steps can assist take some of the strain off your eyes.

  • Blink typically to refresh your eyes. Many people blink less than typical when operating at a computer, which can contribute to dry eyes. Blinking produces tears that dampen and revitalize your eyes. Attempt to make it a habit to blink more frequently when taking a look at a monitor.
  • Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, provide your eyes a break by looking away from your monitor. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a look at something 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds.
    Inspect the lighting and lower glare. Intense lighting and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it tough to see items on your display. The worst problems are usually from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight. Think about shutting off some or all of the overhead lights. If you need light for writing or checking out, use an adjustable desk lamp. And close blinds or tones and avoid putting your screen directly in front of a window or white wall. Put an anti-glare cover over the screen.
  • Adjust your screen. Position your screen directly in front of you about an arm’s length away so that the top of the screen is at or simply below eye level. It assists to have a chair you can adjust too.
  • Use a document holder. If you have to describe print product while you work on your computer, place them on a document holder. Some holders are designed to be put between the keyboard and monitor; others are placed to the side. Discover one that works for you. The goal is to decrease how much your eyes have to adjust and how often you turn your neck and head.
  • Adjust your screen settings. Enlarge the type for much easier reading. And adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that’s comfy for you.
  • Keep your screen clean. Clean the dust from your computer screen frequently. Dust reduces contrast and contributes to glare and reflection issues.

Check yourself with the eye strain symptoms mention above and follow up with you doctor if necessary.

Reyus Mammadli (Eyexan Team Leader) / author of the article
Bachelor in biomedical and electrical apparatus and systems. For more than 20 years he has been studying methods to improve health using affordable and safe methods. Collaborates with eye care charity organization of the CCP. Specialization is a vision correction by laser surgery, including LASIK.
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Ophthalmology: Health of Your Eyes
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