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Is Eye Fatigue a Real Thing?

Eye health is something we do not generally think about until we are actually feeling discomfort. One of the most common causes of eye discomfort is eye fatigue.

Eye fatigue is a very real medical condition.  It happens when your eyes get worn out or tired from overuse.  While eye fatigue is not typically a critical condition and it does not do long term, it can be annoying and even painful.

Eye fatigue can be caused by things like reading for long periods of time, driving for long periods, writing, and using electronic screens for long periods of time or in improper lighting. Digital eye strain is a type of eye fatigue specific to people who use electronics for long periods of time.

Eye fatigue symptoms include:

  • A sore, burning, itching, or irritated sensation in the eyes
  • Trouble focusing your vision
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • An increased sensitivity to light
  • Pain or discomfort in neck, back, or shoulders
  • Headaches

Eye fatigue can be prevented by doing very simple things like:

  • Adjusting the lighting on your computer and digital devices so that they are not too bright.  When doing this, make sure that you do not adjust the light too low or you could still end up with eye strain.  You want to adjust the lighting on the screen so that it is comfortable to look at in the lighting of the environment you are in.
  • Do not use electronic devices or read or write in the dark or in dim lighting.  Make sure that there is sufficient light in your environment to light the pages of your book or papers enough that you are not straining to read or write.
  • Take breaks from your computer during the day.  If you use a computer or electronic device regularly for work or school, get up and walk away from the device and take some time just to relax your eyes.  Take a walk outside.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Sleeping allows your eyes to rest and refresh.  If you are not getting enough sleep, then you are more likely to suffer from eye fatigue because your eyes are not able to refresh well enough.
  • When using a computer or screen, keep it about 20-26 inches away from your eyes, a little below eye level, keep the screen clean, and if you can, use a glare filter.
  • Try the 20-20-20 trick.  Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
  • Try to remember to blink as frequently. Post something on the screen of your computer reminding you to “blink”.

As far as eye fatigue treatment, you can try these tips to help your eye discomfort:

  • Apply a washcloth soaked in warm water to tired, dry eyes (keeping eyes closed).
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
  • If your in a naturally dry environment, use an air humidifier to add moisture to the air.

If the problem persists, make sure you make an appointment to go see your eye doctor for a full eye exam because there may be something more going on than just eye fatigue.

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