Do your eyes become dry, blurry or irritated after you've been staring at a computer screen, reading or driving for a while? Chances are you're experiencing Asthenopia, or eye strain as it is commonly known.
While eyestrain is not a serious or long term condition, it is certainly frustrating and can have a considerable impact on your concentration and mood, causing burning eyes and blurry vision.
Luckily, there are many quick and simple ways to avoid and treat eyestrain.
The top 5 signs of eye strain:
1. Sore, irritated or burning eyes
2. Difficulty focusing
3. Dry or watery eyes
4. Blurred or double vision
5. Headaches or brow aches
Avoiding eye strain
If you don't want eye strain to spoil your day, here are some quick tips to avoid it:
- Get enough rest at night, on average between 7-9 hours, and stay hydrated; keep topping up on liquids during the day to avoid dry eye discomfort.
- Adjust your lighting, is it too bright or dim at work or at home? Insufficient or excessively bright lighting can tire your eyes, so find the right light balance for you.
- Wear anti-reflective lenses. If you are sensitive to light and wear glasses, opt for a pair with an anti-reflective coating. If you prefer contact lenses, certain types are designed to work well in low-light conditions or when using digital devices, like Bausch and Lomb PureVision2.
- Take frequent breaks, when reading, writing, using a computer or smartphone. Try the "20-20-20 rule" to reduce eye fatigue - every 20 minutes look away from your computer for at least 20 seconds, and focus on something at least 20 feet away. This gives the focusing muscle inside your eye a chance to relax for a moment.
- Know your workplace rights. Computer vision syndrome, or CSV, affects 50-90% of computer workers. It is a recognised type of eyestrain caused by using computer or laptop screens for too long without a break, and the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 state that if you require glasses specifically for VDU (computer monitor) use, your employer is obliged to pay for them.
- Get enough rest before driving long distances. Driving tired is a recipe for dry eyes and blurry vision, which can be dangerous on the road.
- Attend regular check-ups. Weak vision can cause headaches, blurred vision, eye strain and dry eyes, so even if you don't currently wear contact lenses or glasses, it's important to have your eyes examined at least once a year.
Eye strain treatments
If you currently have eye strain, following these simple steps should help you enjoy more comfortable sight. If you would like further information, visit my Eye Care Centre on VisionDirect.co.uk, where you can also submit an email to me directly for personal eye care advice.
Top tips on treating eye strain:
- Eye drops or artificial tears are a great way to refresh tired and uncomfortable eyes. There are lots to choose from, including Blink Intensive Tears, which are designed to actively help prevent vision blurring and soothe irritated, dry eyes.
- Ask your optician to review your prescription. Often the first sign that you need an updated prescription can be a constant headache, blurred vision or difficulty focusing. Ensure you schedule a check-up soon.
- Go for an eye exam. In rare cases, eyestrain may be the sign of an underlying condition, such as an eye muscle imbalance, so it is important to consult your optometrist if you consistently experience headaches, blurry eyes or double vision.
- Ask your optician about extended wear contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses for prolonged periods, it is advisable to select a lens that is specially formulated for extended wear. Focus Dailies All Day Comfort and Acuvue Oasys are popular choices, you can ask your optician about moving to them and buy online from a retailer like visiondirect.co.uk.
- Don't wear contact lenses at night (unless they're specialist ones designed to sleep in). It is not a good idea to fall asleep with your contact lenses in, as this prevents vital oxygen from reaching the surface of your eye and can even cause infections or long term damage.