Eye Strain: Causes, Symptoms and Management

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Due to the changing lifestyles and the never ending ‘rat-race’, people are being subjected to spending more time at work which requires hours and hours of reading or sitting in front of a computer screen. Invariably, sooner or later, this overuse of the eyes leads to eye-strain which is also known as aesthenopia.

Eye Strain
What causes eye-strain?

By simple logic, any muscle of the body, when held in a particular position for too long, gets strained after some time. The eyeball is controlled by no less than six muscles outside the eyeball itself, which aid in directing the gaze and stabilizing the eye at a particular object. In addition, the ciliary muscles of the lens get strained on prolonged focusing of the eye on an object. As these muscles strain, they cause the eye to become dry, irritated and uncomfortable, while also causing general discomfort to the body.

Common causes of eye strain are:
  • Computers
  • Television
  • Glare from Bright Lights
  • Prolonged Reading
  • Driving

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Eye Strain?

Eye strain is characterized by the following symptoms, usually occurring in combination of more than one at a time:
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo and Dizziness
  • Pain in the Eye
  • Red, Watery Eyes
  • Blurred or Double Vision
  • Changes in color perception
  • Dry eyes that feel scratchy
  • Burning sensation when you close your eyes
  • Neck aches
  • Back aches
  • Aching heaviness of the eyelids or forehead, especially around the eyebrows
  • Twitch in the eyelid

How to Prevent, Control and Manage Eye Strain?

  • The easiest remedy to relieve eye strain is to close your eyes for a few minutes to ease the strain.
  • You should also blink or roll your eyes at regular intervals. Blinking moistens the eyes and relieves tight eye muscles. And rolling exercises the eye muscles and strengthens them.
  • Take regular breaks to relax eye muscles. Occasionally look away from the monitor and focus on a distant object for a few seconds to give your eyes a rest.
  • Use a glare filter on the computer screen and turn up the contrast.
  • Computer monitors and television screens should be positioned at eye level so that you can look down towards it.
  • While reading, hold your book at least 30 to 40 cm away from your eyes.
  • Wear a hat or a cap when outside in the sun, to reduce glaring and squinting. Use sun glasses.
  • While watching television, the lighting of the room should be about 50% dimmer than the screen.
  • Avoid watching television at an angle or in darkness.
  • Take sufficient nutritional supplements, such as Vitamin A and beta carotene, which are good for the eyes and reduce the risk of eye strain.
  • Use of cold compress (cotton soaked in ice water), or even tea bags, provides wonderful relief from burning sensation in eyes, due to strain.
  • Ayurvedic eye drops, called Itone, help in reducing the stress induced by working long hours in front of a computer screen.

In today's hectic times, it is quite impossible to completely eradicate all the above mentioned causes of eye strain. Well, at least not unless you decide to give up the high-tech city life and become a farmer (a real one that is, and not just a Farmville player)! So your best bet would be to follow the recommendations given above, for preventing and controlling eye strain, and taking extra care of your eyes, to compensate for the extra load put on them.

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