As our usage of computers and other screens increases, eye strain has become more common. Eye strain can cause vision problems, as well as many other symptoms. About two-thirds of U.S. adults spend five or more hours every day on some type of digital device. This can be a phone, tablet, computer, tv, or anything else with a digital screen. On top of that, the average American worker spends upwards of seven hours each workday looking at a computer screen. It's estimated that roughly half of all regular computer users report some level of eye strain; that’s half of the computer-using workforce. This article will explore how you may be able to combat eye strain and prevent other problems with some vision therapy exercises.
Eye strain, or asthenopia, is when your eyes get tired from being overused and overworked. Digital devices and computer screens are major causes of eye strain because of the angles and viewing distances of the screen. It may cause us to sit in uncomfortable positions or force us to focus our eyes at uncomfortable distances. In addition, reading screens is often more difficult on our eyes than reading a printed page. The most common symptoms of eye strain are:
Headaches: Sharp, dull, or throbbing headaches can all be symptoms of eye strain. The headaches should go away after some time.
Blurry vision: Things may begin to appear blurry and out of focus.
Dry eyes: Your eyes may become dry and start to hurt or itch. It may even feel like there is something in your eyes.
Neck pain: General discomfort and a sore neck may be the result of sitting in an uncomfortable position.
Shoulder pain: General discomfort and sore shoulders may be the result of sitting in an uncomfortable position.
Burning eyes: Your eyes may begin to burn and itch after prolonged use.
Tearing: Involuntary tearing of the eyes can also lead to burning and itching because of the need to rub your eyes.
Developing these symptoms may motivate you to make an appointment with your eye doctor or a vision specialist. While eye strain may be the cause of these symptoms, you may also be suffering from vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness, which can make you even more prone to eye strain.
Your Arizona eye care team is here to help you with any symptom concerns. Schedule an appointment with the Arizona eye doctors at Nationwide Vision. We'll assess your symptoms and then help you with the most appropriate treatment plan, which may even be a new prescription or glasses. Find your nearest Nationwide Vision location today.
Our team will be able to rule out or diagnose any conditions that may be affecting your vision or causing the symptoms listed above. If a vision problem is to blame, we will provide a prescription for vision correction. If eye strain is the most likely cause of your symptoms, we may recommend some lifestyle changes including reduced screen time, posture changes while you work at a computer, or vision therapy exercises.
Vision therapy exercises are believed to help improve numerous vision-related symptoms. There are few scientific studies to fully support the use of these exercises, but there is some evidence to support that exercises can help improve visual accuracy and reaction times.
You shouldn't self-diagnose any vision or eye problems. Discuss any new therapies or vision treatments with your eye doctor before beginning. If your eye doctor has suggested you try vision therapy exercises, the following exercises can help you get started.
If most of your day involves starting at a screen, you can give your eyes a much-needed break with some simple exercises. There are several ways you can improve your eye comfort, such as:
Blinking or yawning to produce tears and moisten eyes. This can help you if you experience dry or itchy eyes after looking at a screen for too long.
Looking away from your digital screen toward a source of natural light. This can give your eyes the break that they need.
If using screens for several hours at a time, look away every couple of hours for several seconds.
Simple movements in another direction can do a lot for your eyes. It’s especially helpful if you spend a lot of time on digital screens. Here is an example of an eye movement exercise to try.
Close your eyes.
Move your eyes slowly upward toward the ceiling, and then down toward the floor.
Repeat step two three times.
Close your eyes again.
Slowly move your gaze to the left and then to the right.
Repeat step five three times.
When you spend a lot of time focusing on one object, taking some time to focus on an object in another area is helpful. It’s especially important that the object is at a different distance or angle. If it’s at a similar angle and distance when compared to your screen, you may still experience eye strain. Follow the steps below for a simple refocusing exercise.
Hold a finger a few inches away from your eye and focus your gaze on it.
Slowly move your finger away.
Move your focus far into the distance beyond your finger, and then return your gaze to your finger.
Move your finger slowly back to within a few inches of your eye.
Move your focus to something more than eight feet away.
Repeat this exercise three times.
As simple as it may seem, taking a break can go a long way if you need to rest your eyes. While rest seems like the opposite of exercise, it is a great solution. Vision rest can give your eyes a break from screens and provide an opportunity for movement and refocusing. Many experts recommend the "20/20/20 rule": after every 20 minutes of screen time, look at something at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
These exercises are not a cure-all for your vision problems. Something else to note is that these exercises are meant to relieve eye strain symptoms, not improve your vision. While we do recommend trying the eye vision exercises we described, you should talk to your eye doctor first.
Your Arizona eye care team can help you with your eye strain issues and symptoms. Talk to our team if you are having vision problems or other symptoms of eye strain, or if you think vision therapy may help you. We can also help diagnose other eye and vision issues you may be having. Book an appointment with your nearest Arizona eye specialist at Nationwide Vision. Relief is just a call or click away!