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What is Eye Strain?

The term eye strain is commonly thrown around by people […]

By Published On: 15 December 20122.9 min read

The term eye strain is commonly thrown around by people whenever they feel some sort of discomfort on their eyes or irregularity with their vision. What really defines this eye ailment? How is it ensured that the problem is strain and not any other eye problem? More importantly, what are the best ways to resolve it?


Eye strain is clinically referred to as Asthenopia . This usually gives a feeling of heaviness around the eyes, fatigue on the lids and blurry vision. Among the usual causes of this eye problem include long hours of computer use, extensive reading, hours of driving and other activities which force the eyes to work hard.

Noticeable Symptoms

When these symptoms are already felt, it is a clear indication that the eyes are already strained.

•    Difficulty in focusing, especially to smaller details like numbers or letters
•    Eyes can be extra sensitive to light too. Even if the light from lamp is not too bright, these can be quite painful to look at.
•    The most observable indication of eye strain is redness which can be accompanied by dryness
•    Pain can also be felt within the forehead area, especially the parts close to the eyebrows
•    Extreme strain can lead to uncontrollably water eyes

Common Trigger

Tasks which make the eyes stay focused on miniscule details for long hours can easily trigger eye strain. Aside from long hours of reading and using the computer, even painting, doing embroidery or stitching and other similar tasks can cause this problem to strike.

Fixed stare can also trigger eye strain. This means maintaining the same distance of vision for long hours. Just like all other parts of the body, the eyes also need to move around. Aside from looking up, down and sideways, the distance of the focus should also vary from time to time.

For people with eye ailments like astigmatism, cataracts, nearsightedness or farsightedness, this eye discomfort can be very common too. It may hit more often if the glasses or contact lens is not the right fit. Not wearing glasses or contact lens during visually strenuous activities will also heighten the effects of eye strain.

Many people might also disregard the importance of sleep but this is also a major factor to consider. Sleep allows the eyes to rest and recuperate from the day’s work. Without at least six to eight hours of sleep everyday, it would be like overworking the eyes too.


When experiencing eye strain, it is best not to just ignore it. For people who are not yet diagnosed with any eye ailment, this can lead to serious vision problems in the long run. It is always best to know how to make the eyes feel better again once it is strained. Here are some quick solutions:

•    Soak a flannel in warm water. Remove excessive amount of water. Close the eyes and then place it on top of the eyelids to relax the muscles.
•    Consider using eye drops which is recommended by an optometrist.
•    Take at least 15 to 30 minutes of nap or get complete rest, if possible.

None of these options above deal with any underlying problem. It is important to seek a comprehensive eye examination to deal with refractive errors like shortsightedness, astigmatism and or farsightedness.  Other eye conditions such as Irlen syndrome or Scoptopic sensitivity can cause similar symptoms to Eye Strain, which also need to be ruled out or treated with precision tinted spectacle lenses.


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