Photo has been used for illustrative purposes only. TNS
Eyestrain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as while driving long distances or staring at computer screens and other digital devices for a long time.
Eyestrain doesn’t have serious or long-term consequences, but it can be aggravating and unpleasant. It can make you tired and reduce your ability to concentrate. It usually goes away once you rest your eyes or take other steps to reduce your eye discomfort. But in some cases, signs and symptoms of eyestrain can indicate an underlying eye condition that needs treatment.
Signs and symptoms of eyestrain include:
• Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
• Watery or dry eyes
• Blurred or double vision
• Sore neck, shoulders or back
• Increased sensitivity to light
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open
Common causes of eyestrain include:
• Looking at digital device screens
• Reading without pausing to rest your eyes
• Driving long distances and doing other activities involving extended focus
• Being exposed to bright light or glare
• Straining to see in very dim light
• Having an underlying eye problem, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error)
• Being stressed or fatigued
• Being exposed to dry moving air from a fan, heating or air-conditioning system
Consider these lifestyle tips and home remedies to reduce or prevent eyestrain:
• Adjust the lighting. When watching television, it may be easier on your eyes if you keep the room softly lit. When reading printed materials or doing close work, try to position the light source behind you and direct the light onto your page or task. If you’re reading at a desk, use a shaded light positioned in front of you. The shade will keep light from shining directly into your eyes.
• Take breaks. When doing close work, take occasional breaks and rest your eyes by looking away from the digital screen.
• Limit screen time. This is especially important for children, who may not make the connection between extended viewing, eyestrain and the need to rest their eyes regularly.
• Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well-lubricated and prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Your health care provider can suggest which eyedrops might be best for you. Lubricating drops that don’t contain preservatives can be used as often as you need. If the drops you’re using contain preservatives, don’t use them more than four times a day. Avoid eyedrops with a redness remover, as these may worsen dry eye symptoms.
• Improve the air quality of your space. Some changes that may help prevent dry eyes include using a humidifier, adjusting the thermostat to reduce blowing air and avoiding smoke. If you smoke, consider quitting. Moving your chair to a different area may help reduce the amount of dry moving air on your eyes and face.
• Choose the right eyewear for you. If you need glasses or contacts and work at a computer, consider investing in glasses or contact lenses designed specifically for computer work. Ask your optometrist about lens coatings and tints that might help too.
• Some eyestrain symptoms may be relieved by natural products, such as bilberry extract and omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, but further study is needed. Talk with your health care provider if you’re considering supplements to help relieve your signs and symptoms.
Tribune News Service
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