You know the symptoms; tired, gritty, dry, itchy eyes, tension headaches and blurry vision. Eye strain results from overusing the eyes without resting, especially where digital screens are involved.
Other causes are reading in a poorly illuminated environment for a long period of time, using the wrong spectacle prescription, lack of glare protection, sleep deprivation or any other activity that requires you to work your eyes over a lengthy period of time.
Just think of it this way: if your body feels tired after a period of tedious activity, your eyes, which are more delicate, have the right to get tired too.
Computer Vision Syndrome
In an age where digital devices are the order of the day, it is really no surprise that Computer Vision Syndrome (or digital eye strain), a type of eye strain common to people who stare at the computer screen for a long period of time, is a leading cause of eye strain. Millions of people visit the doctor annually are due to computer related eye symptoms.
Although eye strain symptoms may appear serious, the condition itself is usually temporary and disappears as soon as the cause is eliminated. However, continuously staring forces our eyes to work harder than they ought to, and blink less frequently. This infrequent blinking can result in much more long-term issues such as dry eye.
Eye Strain Relief
Is it possible to treat eye strain? We believe the best way to deal with eye strain is to prevent it from developing in the first place through healthy habits. However, here are some proven steps that ameliorate eye strain.
Use the 20-20-20 Rule
The moment you begin to notice eye strain, apply the 20-20-20 rule! For every 20 minutes you spend in front of a screen, stare at an object 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds. It’s not a bad idea to walk around after being in front of the computer for a while. This will not only increase productivity, but also make your mind more alert.
Use Appropriate Illumination
Illumination needs to be appropriate and not just bright. This is because every activity requires a different level of illumination. Ensure your room is always properly lit especially when reading. Doing this saves your eyes the stress of working too hard by squinting to see properly when illumination is poor. For TV, dim illumination is advisable. When reading, position your light source behind you and directly onto your page.
Block that blue light
Talk to your optometrist about blue blocker tints to protect your eyes from the blue light emitted from modern computer screens. Some computer screens have blue light filters built in – such as those made by BenQ.
Cool as a Cucumber
Splash cold water on your face when you feel your eyes are tired. Cold water has a soothing relief on strained eyes as it relaxes tired eye muscles and also takes care of puffy eyes. Or wrap cubes of ice block in a piece of cloth and place them directly on your eyes for about 2 minutes taking turns with each eyes. The cold ice helps relieve eye strain by soothing the soreness that is characteristic of eye strain. Alternatively, you can use a gel eye-mask which has been in the freezer.
Cucumber is naturally a cool plant which when placed on strained eyes can help restore comfort. You can achieve best results when using cucumbers by having them refrigerated. As soon as the strain starts, cut two slices of cucumber and place a slice on the lids of each shut eye.
While tearing can be easily identified at the onset of eye strain, there are times when the eyes simply become dry and gritty in a very uncomfortable way. Dry eyes only worsen eye strain since there is increased friction every time the eyelids brush the outer parts of the eyes (cornea and sclera).
A good quality and unpreserved lubricating drop can make a big difference to comfort, but if you need to use them more than 4 times a day, you should see a dry eye specialist for advice.
Get Enough Sleep
Sometimes treating eye strain is as easy as taking a nap. For individuals who don’t get enough sleep at night, we recommend at least a few minutes of sleep in the day. If your work environment does not allow afford you the time to get this sleep—as is most probably the case—you can lay your head on your desk for a few minutes with your eyes closed.
Consult Your Optometrist
If eye strain symptoms persist even after trying some of the treatments above, then see an optometrist. Your symptoms could be a sign of an uncorrected spectacle prescription. Your optometrist is an expert in eye care who can provide both treatment and answers to your questions.