What causes your eyes to feel strained is the prolonged tightening of your inner eye muscles coupled with inadequate blinking. Eye muscles fatigue from overuse and your eyes dry out because blinking is how they’re moistened and lubricated.
Tedious visual tasks for extended periods without a break is frequently the cause of asthenopia. This intense use of your eyes causes muscle fatigue and the tendency blink less often.
Working on a computer is a very common situation for promoting an eye strain complaint, referred to as computer vision syndrome. Some other situational causes are:
- watching T.V.
- bright light glare
- reading small print
- straining to see in dim light
Typical eye strain symptoms caused by eye fatigue include:
- dry eyes
- blurry vision
- burning eyes
- double vision
- focusing difficulty
- itchy, red, watery eyes
These asthenopia symptoms may be accompanied by neck soreness and shoulder pain caused by fatigue in those muscles as well. And computer eyestrain may cause additional symptoms of trouble shifting focus and seeing afterimages when you look away from your computer’s monitor.
Asthenopia symptoms can be exasperated by another eye problem or health related conditions, like:
- lack of sleep
- general fatigue
- eye muscle imbalance
- dry air or moving air ~ heating, air conditioning
- need for vision correction ~ myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism
- drug side effect ~ bimatoprost (treats glaucoma, promotes eyelash growth)
You can take steps to reduce eyestrain symptoms by:
- briefly closing eyes
- adjust lighting to reduce glare
- make an effort to blink more often
- avoid areas with high air polutants
- watch television in a room that’s softly lit
- focus your eyes on a distant object hourly
- take frequent breaks from your tedious visual task
- improve air quality by using a humidifier, adjusting thermostat
- use adequate light, especially bright if you suffer macular degeneration
- use artificial lubricating tears, but not one’s that contain any ingredients that remove redness
- gently massaging eyelids, brow, temple, upper cheek with rotating fingertips to stimulate tear glands & relax muscles
For computer eye strain, you may reduce asthenopia by performing these additional measures:
- use a larger font size
- change monitor to LCD
- adjust contrast & brightness on monitor
- keep screen dust free to cut down on contrast & glare
- get corrective lenses specifically designed for computer work
- position computer monitor at least 3 feet away with top at eye level so you are looking slightly downwards.
Although asthenopia is annoyingly unpleasant, there’s no evidence of any lasting health consequences associated with eye strain.
Generally, if your attempts to reduce strained eyes or computer eye strain fail, then your next step in the reduction quest is an eye examine. The type of health care provider that specializes in eye care is called an opthamologist.