Let’s face it, we’re all spending more time on the computer and looking at electronic devices than we use to. This increased use: working, emailing, and using social media has led to more and more people developing eyestrain.
What is it?
Eyestrain happens when your eyes get tired from overuse. Common symptoms include:
– Blurred or double vision/difficulty focusing
– Sore neck or back/shoulder pain
– Sore, tired, burning, watery, dry or itchy eyes
– Light sensitivity
It is commonly caused by reading or focusing on a near task for long periods of time without rest. When due to work on a computer, it is termed computer vision syndrome (CVS). If your vision is under-corrected or if your eyes are slightly out of alignment, it can cause CVS or make it worse. Increased stress or fatigue, as well as dry air from an air conditioner or heater blowing in your face can also cause CVS.
Prevention is key
The best treatment for eyestrain and CVS is prevention and the best thing you can do is take eye breaks. To prevent CVS, you need to focus on something other than your iPad or computer screen. The 20-20-20 rule is a good one to follow: for every 2o minutes concentrating on your computer, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, closing your eyes during this break can help. Getting out of your chair once per hour will also reduce stress and strain.
If you experience dry eye symptoms (or the feeling that there is something in your eyes), try some over the counter artificial tears. The ones that come in eye drop bottles can be safely used up to four times per day.
Make sure that you glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and accurate.
The good news
While eyestrain and CVS do not have serious or long-term consequences, they can can make you tired and reduce your ability to concentrate. Occasionally, it may take days for the symptoms to go away after you’ve begun implementing some chages. Ultimately, eyestrain and CVS are not very serious and go away once you rest your eyes.