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What is “Eye Strain” and How To Reduce It

If you enjoy reading or your work involves spending long hours in front of your computer screen, you might have heard about having eye strain or your colleagues suffering. This week, we will talk about what eye strain is, what are the symptoms of eye strain and how to reduce the symptoms of eye strain.

Understanding How Your Vision Works

Our eyes and vision are complex systems that work effortlessly to provide clear and comfortable vision. As you can imagine, our eyes and the visual system aren’t designed for us to work up close and on computer screens for 8 hours a day.

Our eyes are pointed forward for several reasons. One of the most important reasons is it allows us to judge the distances of objects in front of us with extreme precision. Our two eyes, when working together in synchrony, allow 3D vision. This provides perspective to our space and environment that we are in.

Reading and Computer Use

When we read, our eyes need to focus on the same point. We do this without thinking by bringing our eyes slightly inwards or towards our nose. The closer the screen or reading material is, the more your eyes need to turn toward your nose to keep it focused.

Maintaining your eyes turned inwards or converged, you might feel your eyes becoming more fatigue from maintaining this position or posture for hours without a break. This is like trying to lift your leg off the ground whilst sitting and holding it there for hours. The muscles, or in this instance, the eye muscles, will start to fatigue. When they do, they are no longer able to hold this position, and as a result, your vision at near may become blurry momentarily.

Symptoms of Eye Strain

  • Blurred Vision. Your vision, especially up close, could be blurry. It can sometimes fluctuate as your eye muscles try to focus at the same point. When your vision is blurry, your eyes may try to tear up, which can cause them to become red and irritated.
  • Fatigue and Headache. After spending long hours on the computer or reading, your eyes may feel tired, and you want to keep them closed. Sometimes your eyes could be so tired that it makes your vision uncomfortable, which could translate to a headache-like feeling.

Ways to Combat Eye Strain

  • Take regular breaks. Break up your workload to every hour, taking 5 to 10 mins to break away from your computer or reading. Taking breaks is essential in fatigue management.
  • Glasses. Prescription spectacles could be used to alleviate symptoms of eye strain before they occur. Glasses help by reducing the amount of work your eyes need to do to focus up close on a screen or a book. This prescription varies from individual to individual and depends on how far you sit away from your computer monitor.

The Bottom Line

The use of computers these days has increased dramatically in our everyday lives, both for personal use and at work. If you spend more than 3 hours per day accumulative, it is not uncommon to experience discomfort with your eyes. If you’re regularly experiencing symptoms of eye strain, talk to your optometrist in Canberra. Make an appointment with your optometrist, and they will discuss all the options to help you relieve your symptoms of eye strain.