The use of digital devices is more prevalent than ever, so it’s no surprise that eye strain is on the rise. Studies find that at least half of all computer users experience digital eye strain. There are several other causes behind tired eyes however, including long periods of reading, driving, or other intense use. No matter the cause, here’s what you should know about eye fatigue.
Why It’s Important to Rest Your Eyes
Also known as eyestrain, eye fatigue occurs when you spend long stretches of time looking at something without giving the eyes a chance to relax. This is in part because you tend to blink less when you’re using your eyes for long durations. But frequent blinking is important for eye health, because it distributes and replenishes tears across the cornea. A well-lubricated cornea allows you to see sharply, but when your eyes lack moisture, your vision becomes blurry, which may cause your eyes to strain even more.
Whether or not it’s due to using digital devices, eyestrain isn’t serious or cause lasting damage. It can, however, cause uncomfortable symptoms that could interfere with your productivity or affect your daily routine.
If your eyes are overtired, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Watery eyes
- Tension in the neck and shoulders
- Burning or itching in the eyes
It’s always a good idea to consult with one of our doctors if you have any new or lingering eye symptoms. Your ECA doctor can rule out any other underlying issues, such as a need for a prescription change, or dry eye syndrome. If it is indeed eyestrain you’re experiencing, there are simple steps you can take to stop it.
How to Rest Your Eyes
Whether you’re tackling a big task for work at the computer or you’re flying through the chapters of a new novel, try these tips next time your eyes start feeling tired.
- Take a break. The 20-20-20 rule states that to prevent fatigue, you should give your eyes a 20-second rest every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away, which relaxes the eye muscles. Computer users who practiced this trick had fewer symptoms of dry eye. To remind yourself, try setting an alarm on your phone or watch.
- Blink. While blinking can be an involuntary reflex, we’re naturally inclined to blink less during long durations of intense eye use. It may sound silly, but simply sticking a note on your desk to remind yourself to blink could go a long way in preventing eyestrain. Moreover, an occasional forceful blink is helpful at releasing natural moisturizing fluids.
- Use the right eyewear. The glasses or contact lenses you have for distance or reading may not be best for computer work. It could be that you need a different prescription or even a special type of lens, such as ones with a glare-resistant coating, to reduce strain.
- Keep your eyes lubricated. Although it’s not exactly a form of rest, keeping your eyes moist can help to prevent or decrease the symptoms of eyestrain. If your eyes feel dry, use lubricating drops to increase moisture. Keep in mind that contact lens wearers will need a lens-safe solution, and that drops are only a temporary fix. If you have persistent symptoms of dry eye even after trying these tips, talk to one of our specialists for a more permanent solution.