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What is Eyestrain?

By Ken Black
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Eyestrain is a general soreness or redness of the eye caused by stress from any one of a number of different sources or multiple sources. Over time, it can cause a number of different symptoms including a feeling of burning eyes, blurred vision and even headaches. Fortunately, a number of steps can be taken to help reduce eyestrain.

The symptoms of eyestrain vary widely from person to person, though most will have some soreness in the eyes. In addition to blurred vision, eyestrain headaches are often a common complaint, though at first the person experiencing the headaches may not realize what is causing them. Other symptoms of eyestrain may not be immediately attributable to the eyes. These include feelings of irritation and mental stress.

The cause of eyestrain is overuse of the eyes without giving them enough a period of relaxation in between those prolonged uses. To help combat this, many suggest taking a break every hour for at least 10 minutes. This can help reduce the incidents and provide more productive hours in the long run. Those who suffer this type of eye condition may find that working through it and forcing the eyes to keep focused is a hard task that is ultimately unsuccessful. Poor lighting can also contribute to the condition.

The most common situation in which eyestrain develops in the modern world is when working with computers. Monitor eyestrain develops from looking at a computer screen for too long. Several things can help to reduce this, such as having the monitor's contrast set at a decent level. High contrasting images mean the eyes will not have to work quite as hard. The other solution is to install a screen over the monitor which will help reduce glare and harmful ultraviolet light, which cannot be seen but still may cause strain on the eyes.

Anyone who regularly experiences this problem should also try to understand if there are other contributing factors such as dry eyes. In those cases, there are plenty of over-the-counter remedies which can help restore some moisture to the eyes. While this is not a fix to the root cause of the problem, it may help alleviate some of the eyestrain symptoms.

Those who find that such solutions do not help should seek the advice of a medical professional. While most consider eyestrain a minor irritant, others believe it can cause significant problems in the long term. Further, unusually painful strain could mean that there are other problems that need to be dealt with. Only a trained ophthalmologist can tell for sure.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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