Avoiding eye strain is avoiding serious eye and visual problems. It is necessary to prevent the eyes from getting strained in order to maintain clear and sharp vision.
Strain in the eye occurs when the eyes get tired from too much use like reading or working at a computer or driving a car for long periods.
Eyestrain usually goes away once you rest your eyes however easily strained eyes can indicate an underlying eye condition that must be treated at once.
The Symptoms of Strained Eyes
The following are the signs and symptoms of a strained eye:
- Watery eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
- Dry eyes
- Sore neck
- Shoulder pain
Working in front of a computer all day can also cause additional eye strain symptoms such as:
- Seeing after images or color fringes when you look away from the screen
- Having trouble shifting your focus between paper documents and screen
Avoiding Eye Strain: The Causes of Ocular Strain
These are the common causes of strain in the eyes:
- One of the most common causes of strain is the use of computer or video monitor for long periods. This ocular strain caused by using a computer is called computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome can sometimes worsen underlying eye problems like uncorrected vision or eye muscle imbalance.
- Reading for extended periods
- Straining to see in very dim light
- Exposure to bright light or glare
- Activities that involve extended periods of intense focus and concentration like driving a vehicle or using a microscope.
Risk Factors for Ocular Strain
The underlying risk factors for eye strain include the following:
- Stress or fatigue
- Doing activities that require intensive or extended use of the eyes (driving, using a computer, studying printed materials, etc) on a daily basis.
- Unresolved vision problems or underlying eye problems like eye muscle imbalance.
- Moving air from heating and air conditioning
10 Tips for Avoiding Eye Strain
The following are some helpful tips for avoiding eye strain in the workplace and at home.
- Position your monitor 20-26 inches from your eyes. If your prescription eyeglass does not allow clear vision at that distance, get it adjusted.
- Set the resolution of your monitor screen, the text size of the internet browser and the zoom and font default on other applications. This will make text easier to read. The standard screen resolution is 600×800.
- Blink often to relax the eyes and avoid strain. The average blink rate is 22 times per minute. When staring at a computer monitor, the rate goes down to 7 per minute which causes the lens of the eye to dry out. An eye moistener may be used if you can’t get into the habit of blinking often.
- Minimize computer glare. Ensure that the background light level around the monitor is the same as the level of screen light. Minimize bright lights or direct sunlight in front of the monitor or behind it. if a bright background or reflection cannot be adjusted, attach a glare shield.
- Prevent repetitive upper body and eye movement from paper to screen by placing a paper holder at the same level as the monitor to hold documents.
- Every 15-20 minutes, look away from the PC monitor for 30 seconds. Look at things at least 20 feet away or look outside a nearby window to let the eyes focus and rest.
- Adjust the height of the monitor so that the upper edge is even with your view when looking straight ahead. You can tilt the screen upward to avoid looking at the image at an angle. The best screen position is 10-20 degrees below eye level.
- Set the monitor refresh rate to at least 75 hz. 60 hz is too slow and will easily strain the eyes.
- Once every half hour, put the palm of your hands over your eyes for 60 seconds or so. This exercise warms and relaxes the muscles around the eyes.
- Adjust the contrast and brightness of the screen to levels you use when reading a book comfortably.
Avoiding Eye Strain: When to See a Doctor
These tips on avoiding eye strain should help relax the eyes and relieve symptoms of optical tiredness. If these methods can’t help relieve eye strain symptoms however, it is best to consult an eye doctor. Also if you have ongoing symptoms that include eye discomfort, headache, double vision and a noticeable change in vision, you should speak with an eye doctor at once. Avoiding eye strain is the best way to care for your eyes and ensure that your vision lasts.