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When is eye strain serious? 


27th Jun 2019 Health Conditions

When is eye strain serious? 
What is eye strain?
Eye strain is very common and something we all complain about from time to time. It usually occurs when the eyes have been over used or overexposed to blue light. Blue light comes from sources such as computer screens, mobile phones and tablets. 
Symptoms include sore or tired eyes, blurred or double vision, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, increased sensitivity to light or difficulty concentrating.
Eye strain is generally not a cause for concern and symptoms will subside after adequate rest. However, if eye strain persists or is accompanied by additional symptoms it can be a sign of a more serious eye condition. We delve into these later on in the article. 

What causes eye strain?

Eye strain itself does not damage the eyes, but it can be very uncomfortable. 
Just how our muscles feel after exercise, eye strain occurs when the eyes get tired from intense use. Activities such as reading, driving or looking at a screen are all offenders.  
Although sitting too close to the TV will not make your eyes go square (a lie told by all parents, who’s guilty?) it will in fact have a negative effect on your eyes. 
Wearing glasses with an incorrect prescription will also cause eye strain. You may not realise that your prescription has changed, so please don’t forget to have your eyes examined at least every two years. 

Tips to combat eye strain  

  • If you have to look at a screen for work, give your eyes frequent breaks. Have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule?  The rule advises that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds- simple.
  • When knitting, reading or performing close-up work, make sure the light is bright and pointed directly on your work.
  • While watching TV, keep the room lighted a little. Too much contrast between the screen and the room can force your eyes to work harder than they need to. 
  • Ensure that your glasses or contact lenses are suited to your prescription. A trip to the opticians will sort this out!
  • Did you know that we blink on average around 15 times per minute? This drops by a third when we are looking at a screen. This in turn dries the eyes out and you guessed it, causes eye strain. As ridiculous as it may sound, make a conscious effort to blink more during screen time. Some people use over the counter eye drops to keep their eyes lubricated and comfortable.

When is eye strain more serious?

Eye strain is a symptom not a condition and usually no cause for concern. However, accompanied with other symptoms it can indicate an underlying eye condition. 
Possible serious reasons for eye strain include:


Astigmatism occurs when the cornea (protective outer layer of the eye) or the lens behind it holds an irregular shape- appearing oval like a rugby ball. This distorts the light entering the eye, so it cannot focus correctly on the retina. 
Astigmatism can be corrected with laser or lens surgery.


Presbyopia is the inability to focus on objects which are close up, due to loss of flexibility in the muscles of the eye. It is a progressive condition, generally affecting those after the 40 year milestone. 
Presbyopia is easily treated with reading glasses. Those who desire a permeant fix may opt for lens replacement. 

Brain tumour

Brain tumours can affect your eye health. Swelling of the optic nerves can be detected during an eye test and indicate that a brain tumour is present. It’s vital to attend regular eye examinations, especially if eye strain or pain persists. 
Get in touch with Ultralase Eye Clinics Ltd (visit their website or phone 0800 988 6385) if you have any concerns regarding your eye health.
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