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Eye strain and fatigue – causes and how to prevent it 

Written in association with Mr George Voyatzis Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

29 September 2023

Did you know that you may suffer from eye strain without even realising it? Thanks to today’s busy, technology-filled lifestyle, we often spend time on activities that can cause discomfort and fatigue for our eyes. Our blog tells you all you need to know about identifying and preventing eye strain. However, it is important to note that this information does not replace the individualised information that would be provided by a specialist Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon.

Symptoms of eye strain:

  • Eye discomfort
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty with change of focus from far to near
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes/gritty feeling
  • Headaches
  • A feeling of making an effort to keep both eyes working together
  • Loss of 3D/stereo vision
  • Pain in the shoulders and neck
  • Sensitivity to light

Everyday activities and circumstances that can result in eye strain:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Driving
  • Working at a computer
  • Playing video games
  • Wearing the wrong prescription
  • Onset of cataracts or other factors that can alter eye dominance

Too much time at a screen can cause your eyes to feel tired. The following digital devices can cause eye strain:

  • Computers
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • TVs
  • E-readers

Preventing eye strain

You could try a combination of the following to alleviate eye discomfort:

  • Use artificial tears or eye drops
  • Apply a warm compress, such as a flannel, to closed eyes
  • Take regular breaks, if often looking at a screen
  • Make an effort to blink more
  • Use an air humidifier to add moisture to dry interior environments
  • Get more sleep – this will help repair daily damage
  • Check to see that your eyes will converge adequately to your nose
  • Change how you work to reduce eye fatigue
  • Take regular breaks away from your computer
  • Use a document holder to reduce time spent staring at your screen
  • Carry out a desk assessment to find the right position for your computer
  • Ensure chair height is correct for the keyboard
  • Minimise reflections and glare from your screen
  • Ensure correct lighting – neither too dim nor too bright
  • Try different background colour for your screen
  • Increase font size

When to see an optometrist

If symptoms persist after a change in habits, book an eye test as soon as possible. Recurring eye strain and fatigue can point to:

  • The need to begin wearing contact lenses or glasses
  • The need to update your prescription
  • Asking about vocational glasses specifically for computer screen and close work especially if using multiple screen or if any need to be above desk height
  • An underlying condition with your eye muscles, especially if there is ever any double vision, they do not look aligned or you have found it hard to converge
  • A need for other assessments and onward referral
Learn more

Find out more on Moorfields Private good eye health webpage.

If you would like to know more about Moorfields Private Eye Hospital’s services or to book an appointment, please call our New Patients Team:

Freephone: 0800 3283 421

Alternatively, you can complete the enquiry form below and we will get back in touch with you.

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