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How Long Does Eye Strain Last?

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A woman experiencing eye strain while working using her laptop in a dark room.

In today’s busy world, eye strain can be a common issue, with many of us using computers for extended periods. 

Eye strain is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms when your eyes become tired from intense use, such as staring at a computer screen for prolonged periods. It can also be caused by straining to see in low light or focusing on small, detailed objects. Eye strain can last for as little as a couple of hours to a few days

Appropriate measures and comprehensive eye care can help minimize eye strain symptoms. 

What Are the Symptoms of Eye Strain?

Common symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Why Does Eye Strain Happen?

A combination of factors can lead to eye strain. 

When you focus on something for a prolonged time, such as a book or tablet, the lens of your eye won’t be able to contract as it usually would. We also tend not to blink as much when we focus intensely, causing our tears to evaporate. This lack of moisture can lead to discomfort. 

Several muscles control the eyes and are prone to fatigue like any other muscle. It’s like choosing a basket over a cart when grocery shopping. You may only need a few items, but the longer you hold them, the more tired your arms become. The same is true for your eye muscles—fatigue can happen with extended use. 

How Can I Prevent Eye Fatigue?

You can take a few measures to help prevent eye strain. 

Taking frequent breaks and using the 20-20-20 rule is a great first step. Every 20 minutes, look toward an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. These breaks give your eyes a chance to relax and reset, reducing strain. 

Specific eye strain products are also available that can help prevent or relieve eye strain.

Blue Light Lenses

You may have seen a lot about blue light lenses. They are designed to help reduce strain related to screen use.

Blue light can interrupt melatonin production, preventing us from sleeping well. These lenses use color correction to filter out blue light, easing eye strain and supporting your circadian rhythm.

Alignment Correcting Lenses

Neurolens glasses use specialty contoured prism lenses to correct slight misalignment of the eyes. Eye misalignment can cause overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve, resulting in headaches, discomfort in the neck and shoulders, and eye strain. 

A slight eye misalignment may not be noticeable, but it can significantly affect visual comfort. Neurolens glasses help realign the eyes. 

Even if you have 20/20 vision, you could still benefit from Neurolens

An office worker using a large, curved monitor.

Curved Monitors

Technology has come a long way in a very short period. As little as 20 years ago, the standard monitor was large and bulky, and the screen was often bowed out toward the user. 

After LCD monitors were introduced, they quickly became the preferred style, as they were flat, light, and easier to look at. In the last few years, technology has taken another leap and introduced curved monitors. 

Curved monitors promise to reduce eye strain and fatigue by creating a more ergonomic experience. The curve draws the eyes to the center of the display, which can be a more visually relaxed experience. The user may also be less likely to move their eyes to see everything on the screen, as the curve uses peripheral vision.

Dry Eye Therapy

Sometimes, even with all prevention measures, you can experience prolonged symptoms. Dry eyes can often be chronic and need more specialized intervention to provide relief. 

There is no harm in using artificial tears for occasional dry eyes. When it becomes a more persistent occurrence, you may need professional eye care. 

Tempsure Envi can help alleviate symptoms of dry eyes. It uses radiofrequency to warm the skin, stimulating increased blood flow, releasing trapped oils, and increasing collagen production. 

Other therapies include oral omega-3 supplements or eyelid cleansers.

What Are My Next Steps?

The most important thing is to pay attention to your eyes and body and recognize when you need a break. If symptoms of eye strain persist longer than a few days, it’s a good idea to see your eye doctor for an exam. 

Eye strain can be a frustrating interruption to life. Our team at Signature Eye Care can evaluate your specific needs and tailor a treatment plan for relief. Please contact us to book an appointment today.

Written by Dr. Jonathan Knutson

As a Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Knutson’s commitment to patients is his ongoing professional education. He takes pride in staying up-to-date as technology changes to ensure he can provide the latest and greatest care for your eyes. Dr. Knutson enjoys entertaining and is committed to providing a fun and enjoyable experience for his patients. He genuinely cares about his patients, placing utmost importance on the satisfaction of his care and products.
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