Eye strain is generally defined as a condition where strain is put on the muscles that control the eye. This type of strain can be caused by a variety of things, but most commonly is associated with reading, computer use, and other activities that involve peering at small items. Sewing and craft work are also commonly associated with eye strain. A certain amount of eye muscle strain is considered normal, and often causes no permanent damage to sight, but repeated overuse of eye muscles can cause damage that could lead to surgery or the need to use glasses to improve vision.
Many people who complain of eye strain sometimes feel pain or soreness in or around the eye. They often complain that their eyes feel tired and dry. Headaches and blurred vision may also accompany the condition. The muscles that control sight are much like other muscles in the body, and overworking them often has the same symptoms.
One simple way to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the eye is to make sure and rest the eyes periodically when involved in tasks that may cause strain. Whenever possible, it is probably a good idea to take precautions to prevent overworking the eye muscles. In addition, using eye drops throughout the day may also help reduce strain.
Certain types of lighting may also contribute to this condition. Studies seem to show that continued exposure to fluorescent light may be harder on the eyes than other types of lighting. Fluorescent lights have continual changes in intensity, and though these changes are nearly imperceptible, they can cause the eye to strain without the person even being aware it is occurring. In offices and work spaces that use fluorescent lighting, it is recommended that workers also be given incandescent lamps near their workstations to help reduce the stress on the eyes.
Some exercises have been developed that may help relieve this condition. One such exercise, called palming, involves covering the eyes with the palms of the hands for about three minutes. The eyes should be so tightly covered that nothing is visible. This exercise should be repeated until the eyes no longer feel tired.
Another exercise that may help relieve eye fatigue involves closing the eyes and keeping them closed for about nine seconds, and then repeating the process about a dozen times. Eye exercises are generally easy to do and can be performed most anywhere. They are believed to force the eyes to rest, and may induce the eyes to produce their own lubrication.