Asthenopia, commonly known as eye fatigue or eye strain, is usually a result of overuse of the eyes, which leads to burning, itching, redness, and blurred vision.

Typically eye fatigue is temporary and rarely serious, especially if you know how you overworked your eyes. Eye strain is usually attributed to reading in too low or too intense light, poor quality type or print, or looking at a computer or televeision screen for prolonged periods of time. Driving long distances, or looking out over water, snow or other reflective surfaces can also lead to eye fatigue.

While Common, Eye Fatigue Should Be Tracked

While most cases of eye fatigue are common and can easily be treated, it is important to keep track of how frequently it occurs. In some medical conditions, eye fatigue or strain can be a symptom of a much more significant issue. Talk to your ophthalmologist or optometrist if you experience eye fatigue in combination with dry eyes, blank areas of vision in the eye, double vision or any changes in your ability to see near or far. Lack of ability to focus or long adjustment times in focusing on objects at different distances are reasons to have your vision checked.

Computer Related Eye Strain

Not surprisingly the most frequently reported cause of eye fatigue is looking at computer screens of any size. This can include surfing the web, watching movies or TV on a computer, tablet or smartphone, texting or emailing, playing video games or simply working on your computer.

With more and more devices allowing us to access the internet the amount of time we spend looking at screens of various sizes continues to increase. As devices become smaller and smaller, the possibility for eye strain increases.

This problem is so common that it is actually has a name. It is known as Computer Vision Syndrome and may affect as many as 80-90% of people that work on computers at some point in time.

Treatment of Eye Fatigue

The best treatment for eye fatigue not related to any other eye health concern is to simply avoid the cause of the eye strain. However, if you work on a computer this may not be an option. The National Eye Institute recommends that to help reduce the likelihood of Computer Vision Syndrome and eye fatigue you should:

  • Have your eyes checked and wear glasses, including reading glasses, if necessary.
  • Wear special computer reading glasses that are tinted to reduce eye strain when using monitors and screens for long periods of time.
  • Keep computer screens clean and free of smears or smudges that can cause additional stress on the eye’s need to focus.
  • Keep computer screens and monitors as well as smaller devices at least 20 inches from the eye.
  • Blink more frequently. Research shows that people using any type of device tend to blink less, so blinking deliberately and frequently is an important preventative step.
  • Look away from the computer, printed material or book frequently.
  • Close your eyes and place a warm, moist washcloth to sooth and hydrate the eyes on a regular basis.

Talk to your optometrist about any issues you may have with eye fatigue. Be sure to take frequent breaks from intense visual activities to prevent eye strain and keep your eyes happy and healthy.