Help and frequently asked questions

What are the different types of eye strain?


Eye strain is a common condition that is affecting increasing numbers of the population. The reasons for this can vary, but there are many ways you can improve this condition at home.

What is eye strain?

Also known as asthenopia, this is a symptom, rather than a condition. It refers to the group of symptoms that occur after you use your eyes for an extended period of time. This could be from activities such as being on the computer, reading or any other times when you need to concentrate or have an intense focus for an extended time. You will not be able to strain your eyes by coughing or any similar practices. Some people may also get eye strain when exposed to bright light or glare or if they need to strain to see in very dim light. It has become more prevalent recently thanks to the modern office life and reliance on computers for long periods of time during the day.

What are the symptoms of eye strain?

Eye straian will not cause any lasting damage to your vision, but the symptoms may cause some discomfort. You may suffer from headaches, blurred vision, double vision, difficulty focussing, dry or watery eyes and increased sensitivity to light. Some people also experience pain in the neck, back or shoulders as well as the eye discomfort that can include burning, sore, tired and itchy feelings. Other symptoms to look out for include feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, however, and there are a few measures you can take to relieve symptoms depending on the cause of your eye strain. If you have red eyes, vision loss or suspect you have pulled an eye muscle, it is best to see your optometrist for a diagnosis as these symptoms can not be explained by eye strain alone. Here are several of the common causes and how to treat them.

What is astigmatism?

This is when the cornea, or front surface of the eye, is not curved properly. So, one half is flatter than the other. This can lead to blurred vision and as your eyes try to compensate, you may suffer from eye strainIf you are suffering from eye strain, your optometrist may undertake an eye sight exam to rule out any conditions that could be causing your problems. They should check for astigmatism, which can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

What is computer vision syndrome (CVS)?

Computer use is one of the common causes of eye strain, because there is a tendency to blink less often when at this machine. Blinking is the eye's natural way to refresh itself, so failing to blink often can result in dry, tired eyes. However, there are a few ways you can improve this condition at home or the office. Make sure you take frequent breaks by looking away from your computer every now and then. Even just getting up to make a drink can give your eyes the rest they need. You should also regularly look away from your screen and put your focus on distant objects as this can relax the focussing muscle in your eye. Other steps you can take include making changes to your working environment such as using adequate lighting. This may mean pulling the curtains or blinds across to reduce the brightness of the sun. If you can, avoid sitting under bright fluorescent lights as this can intensify the strain. Glare is another light-related problem that can cause difficulties. If you can, move your screen so it is not subject to glare, or install an anti-glare screen on your monitor. If you wear glasses, you may want to consider getting an anti-reflective coating fitted as this can reduce glare. Updating your monitor's brightness and display settings can also go a long way to reduce glare. You should aim to have the brightness set so it is the same as your surroundings and text size should be changed so it is comfortable to read. Black print on white backgrounds is often the most comfortable to read. Posture can also affect your vision, so make sure your chair and desk are located at the right height and that the centre of your screen is located around 10 to 15 degrees below your natural eye line. If your symptoms are not relieved by these changes, you should see an optometrist who can diagnose any underlying problems that could be causing your discomfort.