For most of us, computers have become integral of our work life and mobile phones an inseparable addiction. As a result of these technological advancements, eye strain and eye fatigue have become extremely common. Bothersome vision problems are now widespread not only among adults but children as well. So, The Week spoke to Dr Bhairaja Shrestha, ophthalmologist and cornea specialist at Drishti Eye Hospital in Kalanki, Kathmandu to know all about this daily eye discomfort. It may not be possible for you to change the nature of your job but here are a few ways you can rectify eye strain.
What is eye strain?
Eye strain is a very common condition and not a disease that one must worry about. The medical term for eye strain is asthenopia and this condition can be recognized through a group of vague symptoms. This occurs when human eyes get tired after focusing on one particular screen over an extended period of time. Also known as eye fatigue, the symptoms that come along with it tend to vanish after one rests their eyes. However, sometimes the symptoms of eye strain may indicate an underlying eye disease which requires the immediate attention of a doctor.
What are the symptoms of eye strain?
While eye strain does not have any specific symptoms, there are a number of vague symptoms through which eye strain can be recognized. Those suffering from eye strain may constantly complain of headaches and soreness of the eyes. Other symptoms of eye strain may include, blurring of vision and doubling of vision. Continuous use of electronic gadgets such as mobile phones or computers can also cause mild tearing, dryness, and increased sensitivity to light. Eye strain can also affect other parts of our body causing tightness in temples, forehead, and brows or soreness of the neck, back, and shoulders.
Does it have any specific causes?
Eye fatigue or strain mostly occurs when your eyes get tired due to intense use. Just like the rest of our body, our eyes also need rest. One of the most common causes of eye strain is excessive use of digital screens. If you are at a job where you need to focus on a computer screen for an extended amount of time then you have high probability of straining your eyes. This problem tends to intensify among those who use smart phones or other hand held electronic devices. While using mobile phones, your eyes tend to work harder as it has to focus on small letters causing tiredness of the eyes.
If you have weak eyesight, wearing inappropriate eye glasses or lenses can also lead to eye strain. This condition is also called uncorrected refractive error where an inappropriate distance or near vision causes eye strain.
Reading continuously for a long time or reading in dim light can also cause eye strain. It is advisable to read while sitting up straight as it causes less strain on the eyes. Driving for a long period of time can also strain your eyes and cause eye fatigue.
When is the right time to visit an eye specialist?
If you have symptoms of eye strain it is advisable to visit an ophthalmologist at least once. The uneasiness in your eyes may merely be due to tiredness or due to weak eye sight. In case of the latter, your eye sight has to be corrected immediately by using appropriate lens.
Eye fatigue may also be caused due to some underlying problem which, if not treated on time, can cause serious problems. So I would advise everyone with these symptoms to visit an ophthalmologist at least once.
Can this problem be rectified or reduced?
The best way to reduce strain in your eyes at office is by correcting the lighting of your room. Both less and excessive lights can cause eye strain. Do not work outdoors where the sunlight directly falls on you. Your office must also have moderate lighting that comforts your eyes. You must also try to minimize glare or reflection on your computer screen as it puts strain on your eyes and makes them tired in a short span. Also, adjusting the display of your electronic device can help reduce strain.
Blinking your eyes more often while sitting in front of a computer screen can also reduce eye strain as that will help retain moisture in the eyes. Resting your eyes after every twenty minutes of work time can be very helpful too. This is also called the rule of twenty where you take a twenty seconds rest after every twenty minutes.
Also, use sunglasses while driving on a sunny day. Glasses with anti-reflective coating are best to reduce strain on your eyes when you are outdoors. Nepal recently adopted a technology called computer based vision therapy system that helps in reducing eye discomfort.
Do these symptoms lead to long-term complications?
The symptoms as such don’t really have long-term effect on your eyes. All these discomforts tend to go away after adequate rest. But it can lead to weakening of eye muscles. And symptoms such as headaches, dry eyes, and sore neck can reduce your efficiency as well. So, although eye strain may not have fatal complications, it can have a negative impact on your overall productivity. So it’s best to consult an expert and get the problem rectified at the earliest.