Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Eye strain facts
- The term eye strain describes a group of symptoms which occur after extended use of the eyes.
- Although eye strain can be uncomfortable, it does not lead to any eye damage.
- Extended computer use or inadequate or excessive lighting may cause eye strain, but there are no permanent consequences of this.
- Symptoms can include headaches, blurring of the vision, feelings of dryness, and other discomfort, but eye strain will not damage your eyes or change their anatomy.
What is eye strain?
The term "eye strain" is frequently used by people to describe a group of symptoms which are related to use of the eyes. Eye strain is a symptom, not an eye disease. Eye strain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as driving a car for extended periods, reading, or working at the computer. If you have any eye discomfort caused by looking at something for a long time, you can call it eye strain.
Although eye strain can be annoying, it usually is not serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. In some cases, signs and symptoms of eye strain are a sign of an underlying eye condition that needs treatment. Although you may not be able to change the nature of your job or all the factors that can cause eye strain, you can take steps to reduce eye strain.
What causes eye strain?
The medical term for eye strain is asthenopia. The symptoms of ocular fatigue, tired eyes, blurring, headaches, and occasionally doubling of the vision are brought on by concentrated use of the eyes for visual tasks. Some people, while concentrating on a visually intense task such as reading fine print, using the computer for hours at a time, or trying to see in the dark, unconsciously clench the muscles of their eyelids, face, temples, and jaws and develop discomfort or pain from use of those muscles. This may lead to a vicious cycle of tensing those muscles further and causing more distress. Other people attempting to do similar visual tasks may have no symptoms at all.
Common precipitating factors for the onset of eye strain include extended use of a computer or video monitor, straining to see in very dim light, and exposure to extreme brightness or glare. Many people will blink less than normal when performing extended visual tasks. This decreased blinking may lead to dryness of the ocular surface and symptoms of dry eyes.
Refractive errors (a need for glasses for distance or near vision, or both) may produce the symptoms of eye strain.
The inability to make both eyes work together in a binocular fashion may also generate the symptoms of eye strain. However, most individuals who have limited or no binocular vision have no such symptoms.
In people who already have headaches or blurring of vision due to eye strain, symptoms may be worsened by an underlying eye problem such as an eye muscle imbalance or a need for glasses for the correction of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. In those who already have eye strain, not getting enough sleep, certain medications, being under stress, or being fatigued can also make those symptoms worse.
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