Your life and eyes 3 min read

Top tips for eye strain relief

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You have probably experienced eye strain before and perhaps just not known what it was. It is ubiquitous and usually leaves your eyes feeling tired and overworked. With a busy, on-the-go schedule, it can be helpful to know the best ways to relieve symptoms of eye strain. Here is your guide to what eye strain is, what causes it, and what you can do to reduce its effects.

What is eye strain?

Eye strain is a common eye condition that usually impacts everyone at some point. It can cause some discomfort, but it is not typically severe. It happens when your eyes are tired or strained, often when you have overworked them.

There are other signs associated with eye strain that you should look out for; this can include tired, burning or itching eyes, as well as a sore neck or shoulders. In some cases, you might also experience increased sensitivity to light.

Woman working on computer next to window becomes sensitive to light due to eye strain

These are common symptoms of many different eye conditions, so it is essential to recognise when something isn’t quite right with your eye health. In most cases, these symptoms, if the result of eye strain, will eventually subside on their own.

What causes eye strain?

Several factors may increase your likelihood of experiencing eye strain. It is usually down to a fast-paced, busy and modern lifestyle! In most cases, eye strain is caused by focusing on something for an extended time; this can include looking at a computer screen, reading or driving.

Woman driving closes her eyes to relief eye fatigue caused by staring at same distance

Activities that require intense focus can take a toll on your eyes, which usually results in temporary eye strain. Most of these activities can affect you throughout your life, as you learn to drive as a teenager to when you begin using a computer or other devices for work.

These lifestyle changes can result in new habits and behaviours, which may eventually incur physiological and postural changes.

Relieving the symptoms of eye strain

One of the easiest ways to reduce eye strain is to take a break from whatever you are doing. The symptoms of eye strain usually subside once you have rested your eyes. For instance, if you use a computer for long periods at work, consider taking a break from the screen now and again by looking at something else. The 20-20-20 rule suggests that every 20 minutes take a break by focusing on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

It is vital that you attend regular eye examinations; every 2 years unless you have been told otherwise by your optician or GP. A routine eye examination can ensure everything is fine with your eye health and vision and gives your optician the chance to notice any abnormalities early.

If you require glasses to see clearly, you should wear the right kind, such as single vision or varifocal lenses, as well as ensuring your prescription is up to date, which is something your optician can do for you.

It may be helpful to look around your environment, both at home and at work, to see if there are any adjustments you can make to reduce your chances of developing eye strain. Minimise glare where possible, including reflections, which can come from digital screens or being on the road. Anti-reflective coatings for glasses can help with this.

Air conditioning and heating units may contribute to eye strain and could also cause dry eye. If you can’t avoid the use of these units, then consider moving out of their path. Similarly, bright or harsh lighting can also be a contributing factor to eye strain. Try to adjust your surroundings, including your computer display.

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