What is eye strain?

Eye strain is a common condition caused from intense use of your eyes, such as reading or driving long distances. In recent years, the main common cause is extended use of computers or other digital devices, such as cell phones or iPads. This type of eye strain is called digital eye strain.

Eye strain can cause discomfort, but is usually not a serious condition. Many steps can be taken to reduce or prevent eye strain.

What causes eye strain?

Eye strain is caused by intensely focusing your eyes during a task. Causes can include:

  • Driving
  • Reading
  • Computer and cell phone use
  • Extended periods of detail work (sewing, writing)

Eye strain is basically tired eyes. It is sometimes also called eye fatigue. Doing these chores or tasks in dim light can intensify eye strain.

People with prior eye conditions, such as uncorrected vision or muscle imbalance, are at greater risk of eye strain. Stress and fatigue can also contribute to eye strain.

Digital eye strain has several distinct causes. Researchers have found that when people use computers or other digital screens, they blink less. This leads to dry eyes, which can contribute to eye strain. Digital devices can also cause eye strain because of their glare, or when there is poor contrast between the type and the background. Improper distance from the screen and poor lighting can also lead to eye strain.

What are the symptoms of eye strain?

The common symptoms of eye strain include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Burning eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Hard time keeping your eyes open

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