McFarland Clinic

How To Relieve Eye Strain When Using Your Computer

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July 27, 2020

Man uses tablet on his couch

Looking at digital devices for long periods of time can be an issue for someone’s eye wellness. Whether people are working from home or getting ready to go back to school, considering ways to minimize eye strain can make a difference in their daily productivity. McFarland Clinic Ophthalmologist Linda Lehman, MD explains eye strain and how to reduce it.

What Causes Eye Strain?

Eye strain can occur when someone is fatigued or has been using their eyes extensively, Dr. Lehman said. Eye strain increases with the frequent use of computers and other digital screens such as tablets and phones.

Sometimes, a person may have a medical reason causing eye strain such as a need for glasses or an underlying eye condition. These include farsightedness, aging changes in the eye, and a tendency for the eyes to drift out. Medications that dry the eye, including over-the-counter allergy medications, can increase eye strain.

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What Are Symptoms of Eye Strain?

Dr. Lehman said symptoms of eye strain can present differently in different people.

Common symptoms of eye strain are:

  • Eyes that are tired, red and burning.

  • An individual that has frequent headaches when using their eyes extensively.

Why Do People Get Eye Strain, Especially At Work?

If someone works in an office setting, their work is often computer work. Lighting, how a workplace is set up for a person (ergonomics), and office stress are factors that can affect the frequency and intensity of eye strain.

Why Does Using A Computer or Phone Cause Eye Strain?

When someone uses computers or other digital devices, they do not blink as frequently as normal. This causes the eyes to dry out, burn, and turn red.

How Do I Reduce or Prevent Eye Strain?

Talk To Your Doctor or Optician

Dr. Lehman says if someone experiences symptoms of eye strain, speaking with their eye doctor about the issue can be helpful to find a solution. An eye doctor can rule out or plan to treat any underlying conditions that may cause that person’s eye strain.

Use Computer Glasses

Computer glasses can decrease eye strain. There are different types of computer glasses to minimize this issue.

  • Single vision glasses are focused at just the computer.

  • Office lenses have a significant portion of the lens focused at the computer, but papers on the desk or things around the office are usually still visible.

Glasses can have anti-reflective coating or blue-light filters to reduce glare. Speak with your doctor and/or your optician to discuss glasses that can reduce computer and eye strain.

Close Your Eyes Periodically

Giving your eyes a rest throughout the day can make a difference in your eye strain issues. Frequent eyelid closure is recommended by closing the eyes for 5-15 seconds every 15 minutes, while working on any screen.

Take a Break

Looking away from your screen briefly can help eye strain. Dr. Lehman suggests looking out a window or by looking at the far corner of a room. This allows the eyes to change their focal distance.

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