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 Eye Strain Symptoms 101: Proven Optometrist Tips & FAQ

In our increasingly digital world, prolonged screen time and improper lighting can feel unavoidable.

Whether you’re a student, professional, or simply enjoy spending time on your devices, taking care of your eyes should be a top priority. Ignoring eye strain symptoms can lead to long-term vision problems, and decreased quality of life.

By paying attention to these symptoms and taking steps to reduce eye strain, you can protect your eyes and ensure that they remain healthy for years to come.

We’ve asked our award winning optometrists for a crash course on eye strain symptoms, how long they last, and of course what you can do about it. 

Eye Strain Symptoms Red Eyes

What Does Severe Eye Strain Symptoms Feel Like?

So how do you know if you are experiencing digital eye strain? Severe eye strain can feel like a range of discomforts in and around your eyes, including pain, itching

burning, soreness, dryness, and sensitivity to light. You may also experience headaches, blurred or double vision, and difficulty focusing.

 These eye strain symptoms can make it difficult to read, work, or perform other tasks that require visual attention. You may feel like your eyes are tired, heavy, or strained, and you may find yourself squinting or rubbing your eyes frequently. In some cases, severe eye strain can even lead to nausea and dizziness.

What Problems Can Eye Strain Symptoms Cause?

If you are someone who spends 6-10+ hours a day on your devices, it’s not hard to imagine the impact that headaches, blurred vision, or dry eyes would have on your well-being and ability to perform daily tasks at work and at home.

Common symptoms may seem like minor annoyances but can extend beyond physical symptoms and negatively affect your productivity, mental and emotional state of being, and lead to increased stress and anxiety.

If left untreated, eye strain can lead to an increase in myopia (nearsightedness), and/or astigmatism.

Eye Strain Symptoms

How Long Can It Take for Eye Strain to Go Away?

Similar to a sprained wrist or ankle, the healing time varies based on the severity of the strain.

Treating Mild Eye Strain Symptoms

In mild cases, if the cause is promptly addressed, you could be discomfort free in as little as a few hours or a day! 

  • Adjust the lighting in your room and on your devices. Overly bright lights can exacerbate eye strain. 
  • Put your digital devices on “Night Shift Mode” which will reduce the blue light exposure from your displays. 
  • Take regular breaks from the activity causing the eye strain
  • Use artificial tears to lubricate the eyes (see these optometrist recommended options). 

Treating Severe Eye Strain

If your symptoms are left untreated, it may take several days or weeks for eye strain symptoms to subside. The best thing you can do for yourself is scheduling an appointment with your local optometrist who can determine the cause of the strain and develop a personalized treatment plan that may include a combination of prescription glasses, contact lenses, and vision therapy.

What Is the Fastest Way to Relieve Eye Strain?

Luckily, relief from eye strain can be quick and easy! Simply take a break from your current activity that is causing strain. For example, if you are on your laptop or tablet, use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20-minutes, look at an object around 20 feet away for a full 20 seconds. This will relax your eye muscles, reset your focusing system, and prevent your prescription from increasing. Set the reminder on your smartwatch, or phone to help prevent digital eye strain.

Need a relief boost? Try gently massaging the points around your eyes and temple indicated below to promote relaxation and increased blood flow.

Eye Strain Symptoms

At-Home Eye Strain Symptom Quick Fixes

  • Adjust Your Posture. The modern world is hard on our bodies, and we aren’t really built for so much sitting.  When we slouch or hunch over, it can increase the strain on our neck, back, and shoulders, which in turn can contribute to eye strain. The term bottleneck is not coincidental, there are a ton of nerves and muscles that are bottlenecked in your neck. Tension in one can lead to strain in another.
  • Adjust Your Lighting. Where possible, reduce the intensity of the lighting in your room and on your devices. Overly bright lights and excessive exposure to blue light can exacerbate eye strain.
  • Take Breaks. Excessive screen time on mobile devices, tablets, and computers, and even excessive near work such as reading books, exacerbate symptoms of eye strain. Take frequent breaks from these near tasks by looking up and focussing on distant objects. 

In general, the best way to treat a strained eye is to find the root of the problem, deal with it, and take actions to lessen eye strain through adequate eye care.  It’s important to visit an optometrist regularly for comprehensive eye exams and personalized recommendations and advice tailored to your lifestyle, family and medical history.

Don’t forget to follow us on socials for more tips on how to manage your eye strain symptoms.

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