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Eye Fatigue: What Is It & What Causes It?

Eye fatigue is a relatively common condition that is becoming increasingly more common each day. Officially called asthenopia, it refers to a set of symptoms that you may experience after intense eye use. Modern, high-tech living and our dependence upon computers have contributed to the rising occurrence of this condition.

What causes eye strain?

Any time you must focus for a long period of time, you risk eye fatigue. Typical actions that lead to this condition include reading, writing, driving, or using a computer. Exposure to glaring light or the need to see in extremely dim lighting are also known causes.

Staring at a digital device for extended periods may lead to computer vision syndrome, familiar to many people as digital eye strain. It makes no difference whether you are gazing at a computer screen, smartphone, or game console – all of these tech gadgets depend upon intense eye use and make your visual system work harder.

If you have untreated astigmatism, it is easier to develop eye fatigue. Astigmatism is when the cornea is not curved properly, which leads to fuzzy vision. To compensate, your eyes may strain to see. A thorough eye exam and vision testing by your optometrist can detect or rule out astigmatism. And if you have it, eyeglasses or contact lenses work well as treatment.

What are common symptoms of tired eyes?

One obvious and natural outcome of having tired eyes is tired-looking eyes. It is hard to keep your peepers looking bright and alert when they are worn out. Other symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

Symptoms vary between individuals. If you have any of the above problems (or any other vision complaints, such as red eyes), it is best to visit your eye doctor for a professional diagnosis, as these symptoms could also point to a different condition.

How can you prevent eye fatigue?

You need a fully functional and active visual system to perform at your optimum. Also, it’s hard to put on your best face when you have tired-looking eyes. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to prevent eye strain.

  1.       Place your computer screen about 20-26 inches from your eyes and slightly beneath eye level
  2.       Use a glare filter for all digital screens
  3.       Eliminate glare and harsh reflections in your work space
  4.       No matter what you are viewing, practice the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look towards an object about 20 feet away, don’t look back for 20 seconds
  5.       Take breaks from all tasks that require intense eye use
  6.       Hold a wet, warm washcloth against your tired eyes to soothe and refresh them
  7.       Get enough sleep; to operate at maximum, eyes need zzz’s just as much as your body

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