Eye strain or eye fatigue is a common and annoying condition. The symptoms include tired, itching, and burning eyes.
Eye strain is rarely a serious condition. Common sense precautions at home, work and outdoors may help prevent or reduce eye fatigue.
Sometimes eye strain is a sign of an underlying condition that may need medical treatment. If eye fatigue persists despite taking simple precautions, seek medical advice. This is especially important if your eye fatigue is associated with headaches or with eye problems such as:
Any activity that requires intense use of the eyes -for a prolonged time or under difficult conditions can cause eye strain. These include extended periods of:
Exposure to bright light or straining to see in dim light can also cause eye strain.
One of the most common causes of eye strain is staring for long periods at digital devices such as:
This type of eye fatigue or eye strain is sometimes known as computer vision syndrome (CVS). It affects about 50%-90% of computer workers. The problem isn’t limited to working adults. While children are less susceptible to eye strain, those who stare at portable computer games or computers throughout the day can also experience eye problems.
The problem is expected to grow as more people use smartphones and other hand-held digital devices. Research shows that people hold digital devices closer to their eyes than they hold books and newspapers. That forces their eyes to work harder than usual as they strain to focus on tiny font sizes.
Digital devices may also be linked to eye strain because of a tendency to blink less often when staring at a computer screen. People usually blink about 18 times a minute. This naturally refreshes the eyes. But studies suggest that people only blink about half as often while using a computer or other digital device. This can result in dry, tired, itching and burning eyes.
Symptoms of eye strain
Eye strain is associated with uncomfortable and annoying symptoms, such as:
Sore or irritated eyes
Dry or watery eyes
Blurred or double vision
Increased sensitivity to light
Headache or brow-ache
It may be accompanied by pain in the neck, shoulders or back due to holding a bad posture for a prolonged period.
These symptoms can decrease your productivity. They may be intensified by sleep deprivation. During sleep, the eyes are replenished with essential nutrients. Lack of sleep may result in persistent eye irritation.
Prevention of eye strain
Usually eye strain can be prevented or reduced by making simple changes in your work habits or environment.
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