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Reign over Eye Strain

Eye strain is a condition that occurs if the eyes get too tired from intense use. Typically this occurs with intense reading or intense computer use. While this condition is rarely serious and it usually goes away after resting the eyes, it can be very annoying. It is essential to determine if your eye strain is accompanied by an underlying eye condition that needs further treatment.

A recent study conducted by Bausch & Lomb revealed more than 50% of office workers have significant eye strain.  Many of them reported being severely distressed by it as they perceived there was nothing that could be done about it!

Symptoms

Eye strain may be characterized by the following symptoms:

•    Dry or watery eyes
•    Sore neck and back
•    Shoulder pain
•    Sensitivity to light
•    Tired, burning, sore or itchy eyes
•    Seeing after images when looking away from the monitor
•    Trouble shifting focus between the monitor and documents.

When you experience the following symptoms, you should seek professional medical help immediately:

•    Change in vision
•    Headaches
•    Eye discomfort
•    Double vision.

Causes

Eye strain may be due to the following activities, especially if done for extended periods:

•    Reading
•    Computer or video monitor use
•    Driving
•    Microscope use
•    Straining to see in dim areas
•    Exposure to glare or bright light
•    Underlying eye problems like uncorrected vision or eye muscle imbalance
•    Fatigue or stress
•    Exposure to dry or moving air from heating and air conditioning units
•    Activities that involve intense concentration and focus.

An eye exam may be performed by an optometrist to determine what causes the eye strain.

Prevention and Treatment

Eye strain usually goes away once you rest your eyes. However, there might be a need to make changes in your lifestyle in order to eliminate it. Here are some tips on how to avoid this condition:

•    Wear glasses or contact lenses for specific activities like reading or computer use.  These need to prescribed accurately with careful attention to eye muscle imbalances.
•    If you are inflicted with an underlying eye condition, seek professional medical help to cure it.
•    Regular eye exercises to help eyes focus at different distances.
•    Direct lighting when reading and doing close-up work where light should be situated behind you. Room should be softly lit when you’re watching the television.
•    When using the computer, proper distance should be observed between you and the monitor. Glare should be removed. Light sources should be off to the side at a right angle to the monitor. Keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor. Reference materials should be beside the monitor, in the same level, distance and angle as the monitor is from your eyes.
•    Take eye breaks following the 20/20/20 rule, i.e. after 20 minutes of continuous computer use, focus your eyes on something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Blinking will also help moisten the eyes.
•    Use artificial teardrops to prevent and relieve dry eyes. Drops without preservatives may be used as often as necessary, otherwise, do not use them more than four times a day.
•    Use a humidifier, avoid smoke and turn down the thermostat to prevent dry eyes.
•    Using your hands and fingers, massage eyelids and muscles over the eyebrows, temple and upper cheek once to twice daily for about 10 seconds. This will prevent dry eyes by stimulating tear glands. You can also massage the area around your eyes.

•    Use of customised tinted lenses can be of tremendous help for eye strain. Colorimetry is a measurement technique that is used to prescribe these.  Stay tuned for more in this very important eye strain treatment.

In sum, you need to take good care of your eyes and make sure not to abuse it to avoid experiencing eye strain.  You can be different to the many people that feel that there is nothing that can be done about this annoying problem.

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

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