6 reasons for muscle eyestrain in one or both eyes

As you close the computer for the day, you look around you. But much to your horror, you make out anything. Everything is blurry. To make matters worse, your eyes feel uncomfortable dry, and irritated.

When you wake up the next day, you don’t feel much better. You can’t get much work done between your blurry right eye and a headache.

Is this a reason for concern? And how do your deal with this unpleasant condition? Luckily, we have all the answers. In this article, we’re going to tell you about the top 6 reasons which cause muscle eyestrain in one or both eyes.

woman in pain

My eyes feel heavy and tired all the time every day.

If your eyes feel heavy and tired all the time, it likely results from your lifestyle. Although this condition can be a nuisance, it’s rarely a reason for concern.

Our eye muscles work just the same as any other. Thus, they can become fatigued by prolonged use.

You might experience this if you focus on one task for too long. It might be reading or writing. However, digital screens can worsen this condition. If you work on the computer, that’s probably the main reason your eyes feel heavy and tired all the time.

Fortunately, you can deal with this obnoxious condition. We discuss the possible solutions in later sections of this article.

What is eyestrain?

woman rubbing her eyes

Eyestrain occurs when your eyes become tired after certain activities. If you’ve ever driven long distances, you might have experienced it. But this can happen to you at home too if you spend too much time behind the computer.

Eyestrain isn’t an illness – it’s simply an umbrella term for several symptoms. These can range from dry eyes to severe migraines. Each person might suffer from different symptoms.

Luckily, eyestrain doesn’t cause any permanent damage. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t uncomfortable. This debilitating condition can make it harder for you to focus on work.

Why do my eyes feel strained?

Although your eyes may feel strained for several reasons, it mostly results from using digital devices. Digital screens force us to focus our vision on a single point. As a result, we start blinking less. As our eyes become drier, other symptoms appear.

However, digital screens don’t have a monopoly on eyestrain. It can result from any activity that involves focus. Reading a book or driving a car for too long might also tire your eyes.

Your environment can also contribute to this condition. Dry air or overly bright room are both common causes.

10 signs of eyestrain you should look for

Odds are you’ll recognize eyestrain when it happens to you. But just to clarify, we’ve included the 10 most common signs to look for. While dryness, blurry visions, and migraines are most common, you might experience additional symptoms.

Below is a list of the 10 frequent signs of eyestrain. Although not a diagnosis, it might help you determine the nature of your vision problems.

man removing glasses
  1. Dry eyes

We’ve all experienced dry eyes. It certainly isn’t a pleasant feeling. We tend to blink less when we stare at a screen for too long. Thus, our eyes get less moisture. It often starts a cascade of additional symptoms.

  1. Headaches

Headaches sometimes accompany the other symptoms.

  1. Blurred vision

You’ll have a much harder time focusing on anything with tired eyes. Your vision will likely become blurry until the symptoms pass.

  1. Irritated eyes

When our eyes become dry, blinking becomes much harder. It can often feel irritating or even painful. This symptom is visible too. If you look in the mirror, they might seem red.

  1. Watery eyes

Your body might try to cope with your dry eyes. It does so by releasing more tears. However, this can make them very watery. These excess tears can make it hard for you to focus on work.

  1. Pain in the neck, shoulder, or back

Eyestrain usually occurs when we stare at something for too long. At the same time, we don’t move our necks and shoulders. It can lead to stiffness or even pain.

  1. Double vision

If you think blurry vision is bad, wait till you experience double vision. It usually happens when the muscles become too fatigued.

  1. Eyes too sensitive to light

Sometimes called photophobia, light sensitivity can be very startling. When you stop working on the computer, you can find other light sources very blinding.

  1. Trouble with reading

Reading can exercise your muscles, but focusing on a book with these symptoms is difficult. Whether your eyes are too dry or teary, they won’t appreciate being put to work.

  1. It’s hard to focus

Apart from reading, these symptoms might also prevent you from doing other tasks. It extends mostly to chores that require clear vision. Cooking or applying make-up might become impossible for you.

6 common eyestrain causes you should know about

Dry air

Dry air affects not only your breathing but also your eyesight. Air conditioners, heaters, and fans can all suck up moisture from your room. This cause often accompanies those we mentioned below.

Stress

When you’re tired and stressed, you won’t be able to focus properly. It can impair your vision.

Vision-related issues

People with refractive errors and vision-related diseases might be more sensitive to these symptoms.

Digital screen exposure

man with strained eyes

It probably goes without saying that digital screen exposure is a reason why your eyes will get tired.

Driving for long periods

When you drive, you have to focus on one task. If you do this for too long, your eyes might become tired.

Reading for too long.

Reading is a focus-heavy activity. Without taking breaks, you’re very likely to experience these symptoms.

What to do about eyestrain – 4 best products to fight the symptoms

Eye Massager

Close your tired eyes and let this massager ease your pain. The combination of a massage and heat can help you cope with the symptoms. We were surprised by how quiet this machine is. It will complement your ‘me-time’ perfectly.’

You can also adjust the strap for maximum comfort. And thanks to the foldable design, it will be easy to take with you wherever you go.

While it isn’t cheap, it’s worth the price.

Check the price on Amazon.

Gel Eye Mask

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you’ll love this sleeping mask. What stood out the most to us was its versatility.

You can either warm it up in a microwave for heat therapy. This method is great for soothing your facial muscles. Alternatively, you can leave it in a fridge for a bit. The coolness can help you fight inflammation if you ever get sick.

To soothe your eyestrain, we recommend using the heat method.

Check the price on Amazon.

Lubricant Eye Drops

These drops can quickly make your eye dryness a thing of the past. The package comes with 60 single-use vials. It means they will last you for a long time. The application is fast, and so is the result.

Check the price on Amazon.

Computer Relief Drops

Limiting your screen time isn’t always possible. Many jobs demand sitting behind the computer for hours. Luckily, these drops can bring you swift relief.

Though they treat just the symptoms, you can use them as often as you need. They won’t leave a dent in your wallet, either.

Check the price on Amazon.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

One way to protect yourself is to invest in blue light-blocking glasses. Apart from helping you sleep better, this pair can also prevent eye fatigue.

Check the price on Amazon.

Diagnosis

While only a doctor can diagnose, you can look for several symptoms. These will help you determine if your condition is just fatigue or something worse.

The most common sign is dry and irritated eyes. It happens because you don’t blink as much when you focus on one task. It can later grow into blurry or even double vision.

Some people experience headaches and neck pains. Others become sensitive to light. Together, these symptoms make it much harder for you to focus.

If you found yourself in this description, you likely suffer from eyestrain.

Eyestrain prevention – 8 tips to combat the symptoms

They say prevention is the best medicine. And in the case of eyestrain, they’d be right. Removing the causes is often enough to soothe the symptoms.

We’ve prepared a list of 8 tips to help you improve your vision.

Take regular breaks

The best way to deal with this condition is to take regular breaks. You can use the 20/20/20 rule. Every twenty minutes, look at an object 20 feet away from you. Do this for 20 seconds and then return to your task.

You can also set reminders if you want to be serious about it.

Place the screen appropriately far.

Whatever the device, you should keep it arm’s length away from you. Make sure the screen is either at or below your eye level.

Keeping it too far or near can worsen your symptoms.

Set up good lighting

When reading, the light source should be behind you. You should also dim your room lights when you watch a movie.

Moreover, adjust your screen brightness according to the ambient lighting. If the sun shines through your windows, increase it. If it’s getting dark, lower it.

Multitask smartly

Multitasking can be tough on your eyesight. Make sure you have everything of interest near you. Avoid shifting your gaze between multiple objects rapidly.

Improve your air quality

Fans, A/Cs, and heaters can make the air dry. Don’t keep these machines turned on for too long.

However, we’re aware that this isn’t possible in every climate. If you must use them, consider investing in a humidifier.

Use eyeglasses or contact lenses

Your optician might prescribe you eyewear designed to combat the strain. Though not cheap, it can remove the symptoms altogether. It can help you focus on your work without dealing with prevention.

Make your day less monotonous.

Variety is the spice of life. But it can also ease these symptoms. Try not to stare at a screen for 8 hours straight. Instead, break up your work time into smaller portions. Of course, this might not be possible in every job.

Use eye drops or artificial tears.

Artificial tears can remove the symptoms once they occur. However, they can also prevent them.

The increased moisture can combat dryness. Doing so will improve your vision.

How long does eyestrain last?

Since eyestrain has clearly defined causes, it should disappear once you remove them.

Digital devices mainly cause the condition. Once you stop looking at the screen, the symptoms should disappear within an hour. The same goes if you’re driving for a long time.

If your symptoms persevere after this duration, you might suffer from a much more serious condition. We suggest visiting a doctor in this case. A timely intervention might keep the condition from becoming critical.

Eyestrain and digital devices

Digital devices are the main culprits behind eyestrain. They contribute to this condition in 5 meaningful ways:

When we sit behind a digital screen, the content often absorbs us. This intense focus makes us blink less. And the less we blink, the drier our eyes become. It leads to strain and irritation.

We tend to hold them at the wrong distance.

As if digital screens weren’t bad enough, we often don’t use them properly. Holding them too far can force us to strain our eyes to make out the screen. And when we hold them too close, we become exposed to more blue light.

They emit blue light.

Though every light source emits blue light, digital devices are notorious for radiating this wavelength. While blue light promotes alertness, it has some negative effects too.

The wavelength hinders the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. It can disrupt our circadian rhythms.

Some sources claim blue light may contribute to eyestrain, while others deny the fact. Whatever the case, using your devices sparingly is never a bad idea.

We often don’t pay attention to brightness levels.

On a sunny day, we have to increase the brightness level on our digital devices. Otherwise, we won’t see anything. But as the day draws to an end, the ambient light reduces.

We rarely lower our brightness accordingly, and this excessive lighting can worsen our eye fatigue.

They worsen our posture.

White-collar workers will be familiar with this one. When we work behind the computer, we often sit stiff as statues. It can lead to additional symptoms, such as neck and shoulder pain. We often become so absorbed with our work we don’t even realize this.

How to diagnose computer vision syndrome

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) refers to eyestrain caused by digital devices, mostly computers. While this is just one of the possible causes, it’s undeniably the most prevalent one. Over half of US citizens spend at least 5 hours behind the computer.

Some might just play video games from dusk till dawn. Others rely on computers for work. Regardless, the problem remains. If you suspect you suffer from CVS, examine the following symptoms.

The first sign to look for is dry eyes. You might also experience sudden blurry vision in one eye.

As the symptoms progress, your eyes might also become red and irritated. On the other hand, some people might suffer from watery eyes instead.

Symptoms like headaches or neck pains are also common.

The key to reducing computer eyestrain is prevention. Cut down your screen time, and you’ll notice considerable improvements. Alternatively, you can use artificial tears to moisten your eyes.

Who is prone to eyestrain?

Eyestrain isn’t age-related. Even children might suffer from these symptoms.

However, people with nearsightedness or farsightedness might be more sensitive to this condition. Astigmatism might also contribute to it.

It might also happen more often to those with eye muscle issues or chronic dry eyes. Spending too much time behind a digital screen is another risk factor.

FAQ

Will eyestrain go away?

The symptoms of eyestrain should subside after one hour of removing the cause. If they don’t, you might suffer from another condition instead. In this case, you should visit a doctor to rule out this possibility.

Can eyestrain affect only one eye?

Eyestrain usually affects both eyes equally. However, it’s possible to have it in just one eye.

It usually accompanies diseases like Meibomian Gland dysfunction or Aqueous Tear Deficiency. Both condition cause dryness in just one eye. It might exacerbate the strain in just this affected eye.

Some medications can produce similar effects.

Can eyestrain cause nausea?

Although rare, eyestrain can cause nausea. However, nausea often results from more serious eye complications. If you experience this symptom, you should visit your optician.

It might be a false alarm, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

How to get rid of an eyestrain headache?

Getting rid of an eyestrain headache is the same as removing other symptoms. Simply remove the cause. Cut down on your screen time and avoid sitting in rooms with dry air. Make sure you take regular breaks from activities such as reading or driving.

Final thoughts on eyestrain in one or both eyes

Though eyestrain is rarely serious, it can be a nuisance. It happens when your eyes become tired after long periods of focus. You start blinking less, and your eyes dry up. Other symptoms develop soon after.

Dry air and improper lighting can contribute to this condition. However, digital screen exposure remains the most common cause.

The best way to deal with it is to limit your exposure to these causes. Taking regular breaks from the computer can bring relief. You might also use artificial tears if you want faster results.

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