You know you have eye strain if your eyes feel dry, gritty, and achy. Choosing an eye strain treatment will depend upon the severity of the strain and how you strained your eyes in the first place. There can also be several ways that you get eye strain, which includes working too long in front of a digital screen, reacting to some type of environmental factor, or experiencing difficulty when reading a print book, especially if it is a small font on a white page.

Best Lighting Practices While Reading Books or Tablets

Surrounding light may also be an issue when it comes to eye strain relief. While you need to see the page with enough light to read the words, never place a lamp so closely that shines directly on your page. There will be too much glare bouncing off the page back into your eyes. After a while, your eyes will start aching, much as if you were out in direct sunlight without sunglasses. You need to protect your eyes from continuous glare.

Wherever you choose to spend time reading, make sure that you have adequate light coming from over your shoulder on the right or left side. If you are right-handed, place the lamp slightly behind your left shoulder. The opposite is true if you are left-handed. This is to avoid having a shadow from your hand on the page as you get ready to turn to the next page.

Top Article: What is Eye Strain?

Turn on lamps in your reading area so that they diffuse any dark areas in the room. It can be a strain on your eyes if the only lighted area is your reading lamp on the book. You need light coming in to your eyes’ light receptors from all over, not just on one bright spot. If you are using a tablet to read your books, do not read it with just the light that comes from the tablet screen. Use another lamp that spreads out lighting around you.

The distance of your book from your eyes while reading should be around 14 to 18 inches away from your face. Ideally, when reading, place the book on a table or other platform in front of you, raised slightly from the flat position on the table. You can figure out the most comfortable relationship of the angle of your book to the lighting coming from your lamp. The same positioning of lights and reading angle apply as if you were reading a print book.

Line-of-Sight Angle

Think of a 45-degree angle when figuring out the right angle of reading your book from your eyes’ line of sight. This angle allows you to keep your eyes wide open without having to drop your chin too much, or to lean over to read a book on a flat surface. You want to avoid getting a strained neck as well as straining your eyes.

Example of a Book Angled Up at 45 degrees

eye strain treatment

Photo by Rawpixel on UnSplash

If you do not want to hold your book up, consider getting a small riser, such as a laptop platform, upon which you can set your book while reading. Then lower or raise the platform angle for the most comfortable reading position. Typically, these platforms are hard open-mesh risers that allow you to adjust the angle from underneath, but must sit on a flat platform, such as a table, to be stable.

You can also get a comfortable portable pillow desk that allows you to change the angle from underneath. Some of these even come with a small lamp attached that runs on batteries. You can rest this pillow desk on your legs while sitting in your favorite chair and adjust the reading angle while leaning back to relax.

Now that we’ve addressed some of the causes of eye strain, read on to find out how to treat eye strain under different situations or conditions. After that, we’ll get into eye strain treatment options.

Related Article: Protect Eyes From Computer Screen Eye Strain

Eye Strain and Dry Eye Symptoms

Whenever your eyes feel tired, achy, itchy, and it hurts to look at bright lights, you may have dry eye symptoms along with eye strain. In which case, you need to find some eye strain relief. This means that you do not have enough moisture on the surface of your eyes to support the healthy lubricated state that normal eye surfaces should have. How long you experience dry eye symptoms will determine what types of treatments to try.

You can have a mild level of irritation that lasts for only one day, for whatever reason, such as having travelled to a dryer climate. If you travel for work, which means a constantly changing environment, always bring along a bottle of moisturizing eye drops to use when needed. There are many suitable over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops, but always go with those that offer extra moisturizing. That moisturizing ingredient is always indicated on the bottle’s front label.

If eye strain and dry eye symptoms occur on a regular basis, you may have a larger problem that will require a visit to the doctor as soon as possible. You may have issues that only a doctor can figure out, so it is very important to rule out internal degenerative issues that may be occurring. Avoid rubbing your eyes as you could damage the surface if there is a condition present that you do not know about yet.

If you have any discharge of pus along with your eye strain, you should go to your eye doctor at once and get a full checkup. If you have trouble getting an appointment with your regular doctor, then go to the local hospital emergency room or an emergency clinic.

You could have an infection that, if left unchecked, could cause permanent damage if not treated quickly with antibiotics and other prescribed treatments. Keep your hands clean and away from your eyes as much as possible. Use a clean tissue to gently pat or wipe your eyes if you must. Then dispose of it in a safe place.

Dry Eye Syndrome – Solving the Problem

When you start having dry eye symptoms on a regular basis, then you have dry eye syndrome. You may also feel like you have a small object or piece of dirt in your eyelid that is irritating and scratching your eye, even though there is nothing there. Use your OTC eye drops to gently flush your eyes from time to time.

There are relief options you can try until you can get to a doctor for your checkup. Figure out what circumstances cause you to have the most trouble with dry eyes and eye strain.

You may find that you have more trouble with dry eyes at work, but once you leave work, you’re fine. Maybe you could say you are allergic to work, which is true in one sense, but you will get no sympathy from your boss unless other workers have your same problem and they back up your story. You may also be able to prove it is an environmental issue by removing the offending factor for a certain amount of time, such as reducing or shutting down overhead fans or air conditioning vents that are directly over you and your work area.  

At home, you may have a lot of dust, along with cat or dog hair lying around. Change your air conditioning filter often. If, once you leave home, your sinuses and dry eye symptoms clear up, it means you need to clean more often. Hopefully, it does not mean you are developing allergies to Fido and Princess.

If you are working in front of a computer screen day after day, you may have digital dry eyes and eye strain related to viewing a bright screen for hours. You can learn more further on in this post for help with fixing this issue under the section called Digital Dry Eye and Eye Strain Treatments.

If you have an air conditioner or heater that blows air directly on where you are sitting while working, see if you can adjust the vent panels to blow in a different direction. You can also try to shut the panels all the way, as long as that does not affect other workers.

You can also have allergies to various things in your environment, such as office plants, cleaning solutions used by the night crew, office carpet fibers, and other items. It may take you some time to uncover the culprit, but once you do, you are on your way to solving your problem.

If you have seasonal allergies, then you may already be on some type of medication prescribed by your doctor. Some medications may dry out your sinuses and cause dryness of your eyes as well. You may need to use OTC moisturizing eyedrops on a regular basis to keep your eyes healthy with the proper level of moisture. Your allergist should be able to help you with the right solution.

Consider having a portable steam system that will give you a moisturizing environment, especially when you are in a dry location. The steam system will help prevent nasal passages from getting too dry, and help add moisture to the surface of your eyes.

See Also: Headaches Behind the Eyes

Digital Dry Eye and Eye Strain Treatments

If you work with a computer screen and look at tablets and mobile phones all day long, you can easily get eye strain and/or dry eye symptoms.

Whenever you turn on a computer, your eyes have to start dealing with different light levels. You will get a bright screen once you open a document, which usually has a white background. Your browser usually has a white background too when you are searching for topics on the internet. If the screens seem overly bright, then lower the brightness level of your screen until you find the level where your eyes feel comfortable.

You can always check the manual for the computer to find out how to turn the brightness level down. On the PC keyboard, you go up to the top row keys, which are your F keys. There should be two keys on there that show an UP arrow with possibly a sunlight sign next to it. The key next to it will show the DOWN arrow with the same sunlight sign.

On many computer keyboards, you may need to access and hold down the FN key first or check your manual to know which key to press first before hitting the top row F key. If you have the FN key, press and hold down the key, then click on the F key with either an up or down arrow. Your brightness level application will show what level you are at. From there, you can lower it by pressing the DOWN arrow until you find your comfort zone.

You can also try using a set of blue light blocking eyeglasses which may go a long way to reducing that eye strain you are getting. Blue light from digital screens can throw off your Circadian Rhythm system because it suppresses the production of melatonin in your body, which is needed to help you go to sleep.

Your body produces serotonin during the day which keeps you awake and productive at your office or while out and about, running errands. When the day turns into evening, everyone turns on lights in their home rather than keeping things dark, so melatonin is not activated yet to begin turning the body system to sleep mode.

If you work with your digital screens into the evening hours or have an overnight work shift, then you should use these glasses to reduce the effect of digital eye strain along with the lack of melatonin production. This includes watching television, looking at your digital phone or tablet screen, or working on your computer. So, if you do all these activities, and you like to read before going to sleep, use a set of blue light blocking eyeglasses.

We show you one of our favorite versions below. You can click on the bolded link below to open a separate page to see the glasses.

SightPros Computer Glasses- Blue Blocker Reading Glass for Men and Women- Reduces Eye Stain and Fatigue (+1.50 D)

eye strain relief

This set of blue light blocking computer glasses from SightPros is sized at a reading magnification of 1.50. You can also buy them without magnification at 0.00, or at 1.00 or 2.00, as needed. These computer glasses are designed to reduce eye strain when you must spend hours at a time working with computer screens during the day.

The sturdy black plastic framework gives stability so that you should not experience any warp or bending on the frames over a long period of use. The 51-millimeter lenses are made of high quality plastic in an open viewing range, so your frame does not interfere with what you must look at.

The level of blue light blocking is stated at 36 percent, which is considered the safe optimal percentage needed, according to the manufacturer/seller.

What Amazon Customers Say:

Most of the customers really like using these glasses while working with computer screens during the day. A few did mention that after a certain amount of time, they had issues with the hinge screw falling out or a part of the frame breaking. Some pointed out that the arms are thin, which may lead to breakage, so handle with care when using these glasses.

Most customers also mentioned they really like the slight amber tint of the lenses and have added that they no longer have headaches, which is a big plus for them.

Related: Eye Strain Causes

How to Relieve Eye Strain

Make sure that you blink often enough, as eye strain occurs when you stare at a screen for a long time without blinking. One problem is that light is hitting your eyes continually, so if you find that you are staring for too long, throw in a few manual blinking exercises from time to time.

Blinking unconsciously provides that natural tear production coating for your eyes. When staring at a screen or even a book page, that process can be interrupted while you are intently looking at that text or those numbers. Monitor how often you are blinking during a normal routine, as opposed to staring at a screen or reading an engrossing book.

Take breaks when you can and shut your eyes for about five to 10 minutes. You can also use either a warm face cloth over your closed eyes during that time or you can use a handy cold compress if that would feel better. While the product below is currently not in stock, you may want to try the cooling eye mask shown that soothes puffy itchy eyes when it does come back in.

Cooling Eye Mask for Puffy Eyes, Allergies, Sinuses by MEDIVIZ

how to relieve eye strain

This is a great solution for puffy itchy eyes that you can use when you want to take a 10 to 15-minute break at work or while at home. Never use these for longer than 20 minutes, so if you take a nap, set your alarm. The mask comes with a comfortable elasticized strap so that you can take your nap in comfort. The strap ensures the mask will stay right where you want it to reduce eye strain

The MediViz cooling mask treats puffy or dark circles that show up under your eyes after a late night. The mask also helps with headache and migraine relief, aside from relieving puffy and strained eyes.

Buy two of these and you can always have one in the freezer, ready to go when you need one. Put the mask in the freezer at least two hours or more, before you think you need to use one.

The MediViz mask is easy to care for and you can hand-wash it with mild soap and water. Be sure to always place the material side of the mask over your eyes, rather than the plastic side. People who have allergies will also find this mask to be very helpful in reducing sinus pressure and irritated strained eyes. Avoid placing the mask against sharp objects to protect the gel inside.

What Amazon Customers Say:

Most customers love using this mask to help with reducing migraine headaches and soothing irritated eyes. This mask is most popular with those who have allergies along with puffiness around the eyes, as well as eye strain issues, for resting the eyes in a closed position.

One thing you should always do is to check the seams of the mask on a regular basis to make sure that there is no leakage. Once you freeze the mask, it will be safe, but if there is even a small leak anywhere, when it thaws while resting on your face, it could get messy. While it is a rare situation, just make a habit of checking the mask from time to time.

Allergies and Your Environment

When you have allergies, that can add to your issue with eye strain, compounded with dry eye symptoms. If you have not been to your doctor yet, you should go to get immediate help with what medications are needed to help you feel better.

Some allergy medications may dry you out further, so you do want to use OTC moisturizing eye drops along with oral medications. Not only will artificial tears give a soothing effect but will help clear up your vision more when you feel less strain in your eyes.

Always find out what factors aggravate your allergies, so you can remove them from your environment. Get a full testing appointment with your doctor so you know for sure what you must avoid.

Keep a Clean Environment

Daily Habits

Always make sure to wash your hands often, especially when you have been outside your home. The goal is to avoid picking up other people’s germs when out shopping, specifically when using shopping carts. Avoid touching your eyes and face while shopping and handling store items.

Take advantage of hand wipes that stores sometimes place by the shopping carts, so you can clean your hands and the shopping cart handlebar. You can also wipe your hands again as you leave the store. Any store that has a high volume of customers throughout the day, including 24-hour stores, will inevitably have at least one sick person roaming around within the store.

While it may seem neurotic to clean your hands so often, in an ever-growing population, illness and disease will also grow exponentially. You must do what you can to stay healthy.

Home Cleaning

Always wear plastic dishwashing gloves when cleaning your dishes and your home. It can be annoying to always pull those on when cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, and other areas, but it’s worth it. Keeping your hands covered will save wear and tear on your hands and skin.

Always use a nose mask when handling chemicals, such as plumbing chemicals when you need to un-stop a drain. Such chemicals are very caustic and even the smell can irritate delicate membranes in your nasal passages and your eyes. Accordingly, you can also use protective eye glasses which have full rims that rest against the face to avoid sprays getting on your eyes.

Shut the door to any areas where such chemicals have been applied to drains. This keeps children and pets out of harm’s way while the chemicals do their work.

Spending Time Outside

It is good to get outside and walk or do other exercise that help you bring more fresh oxygen into your system. Even gardening helps with this, and it is always good to connect with the earth when you are planting a garden.

Do make sure to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to the rays of the sun. With that in mind, we offer a great set of eyeglasses that work well both inside and outside too.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses Inside Transition to Sunglasses Out | Blue Blockers

reduce eye strain

These Blue Light Blocking eyeglasses, sold by Eye Love, transition to 100 percent ultraviolet (UV) protection sunglasses when you step outside. Even better, you do not experience any glare when you go outside. This makes it easy to stay with the same pair of glasses wherever you go. They come in four colors: red, blue, black, and matte black, with different pricing for each color variation. The TR-90 plastic frame gives you long-term stability and support while you wear them all day long. The blue blocking lenses block up to 30 percent of blue light, which is suitable for daytime wear while working at your computer.

The blue light blocking lenses are clear when you are working at your desk, and when you step outside, the lenses change to a dark gray. They provide a high-quality level of anti-fatigue capabilities along with cutting glare, which gives better protection against tired and dry to treat eye strain

These glasses help protect against macular degeneration, possible cataracts, and cancer, and help you support your body’s Circadian Rhythm that is necessary for sleeping well at night. Eye Love guarantees this product 100 percent.

What Amazon Customers Say:

Most customers (75 percent) love how these glasses work, particularly the ability to transition from inside, to sunglasses when going outside. One customer, who is a courier driver, liked how he did not have to worry about light transitions from inside his vehicle to read screens, and outside while delivering packages.

Most customers also mentioned that the glasses fit nicely on their heads, making them very comfortable to wear all day long. Many also mentioned they experienced little to no fatigue during the day while working with digital screens, making it much easier to stay focused.

Be sure to always keep your glasses safely protected when you are not wearing them.

Eye Exercises for Eye Strain

When your eyes feel strained from working at your computer all day long, take the time every 20 minutes to look away from the screen to give your eyes a break. We have already mentioned some of the helpful tips you can use for reducing eye strain and dry eye symptoms.

Exercise your eyes by gently looking in different directions while holding your head straight. Do not strain to move your eyes – just gently move them around. Look at other objects on your desk or look out the window if you have one close to your desk.

Look up for about two to three seconds, then switch to looking right for two to three seconds, and then to your left side. Keep your head straight forward while you do this. Remember not to strain or push your eyes in different directions.

Remember to blink more often and, if you need to, add a few moisturizing eyedrops to help soothe any dryness you might be experiencing. Also use any of the eyeglasses suggested in this article and use the soothing eye mask to reduce irritation and dryness. These tips will go a long way to helping you feel better, less tired, and more productive at work.

Make sure to visit your eye doctor once a year to make sure your eyes are in good health. You may find that if you are wearing contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses, it may be time for a different prescription.

The surface shape of your eyes may change over time under certain conditions, so it is important to protect your eyes and keep them in a healthy state. This is particularly true for older people who are still working and need to check their eye health. Catch any issues that are developing, so you can get them fixed before they become a big problem.

Your Health

Exercise and getting out into open fresh air is essential for supporting a healthy body. Drinking water often is also important for helping you stay in prime condition, including your eyes.

Your Food Diet

Watch your daily diet to make sure you eat foods that support your health. If for any reason, you are not able to get enough of the foods you need, consider taking supplements that will give some extra advantages.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for supporting your eye system, brain function, and your nervous system. If you eat fish, such as wild-caught salmon, at least twice a week, then you are doing well in supporting your eye health. Herring is also good for providing omega-3 fatty acids, as are mackerel, tuna, and sardines. You can get them fresh and cook up the fillets or use canned versions as the next best choice. You can go here to find out more.

Other foods that are important for supporting eye health are sweet potatoes, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens that have lutein and zeaxanthin (also mentioned below), eggs, and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole oats). Add more carrots to your diet to support eye health (Vitamin A), along with corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Fruits containing Vitamin C are also good for you, such as grapefruits, oranges, most berries, and lemons. Cantaloupes are also good.

Some foods may be out of season, making it hard to get them from your grocery store. The other option is to take supplements when you cannot get the natural version.


Other supplements you might consider taking are a B Complex using all the B components, such as B1 (thiamine), which is very important for your eyes. Vitamin C is water-soluble, as is the B complex, and helps reduce the chance of getting cataracts.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps support your eyes against potential cataracts and macular degeneration. It is an important addition to your list of supplements that your body needs.

Zinc is also important for you as an antioxidant, which reduces copper absorption and supports your body’s cell production and rejuvenation. Lutein and zeaxanthin, both carotenoids, specifically support your eyes and retinas. You can go to Healthline to see more about the supplements and what they do.

While having eye strain does not necessarily mean you have a medical condition, we cannot stress enough how important it is to see an eye doctor. If you do this on an annual basis, you and your doctor can also track any minor degeneration in your eyesight and be able to stop the damage before it becomes a bigger problem.

Eye Strain Treatments to Keep You and Your Eyes Healthy

There are several steps you can take if you have eye strain and/or dry eye syndrome. In the sections below, we look at what you can do to help yourself before you get to the eye doctor. These are simple and cost-effective and, in the case of drinking water, mostly free.

Hydrate Often

Eye strain and dry eye syndrome go hand in hand with one of the major solutions to curing many body issues: proper hydration. Your body needs water all the time, so it is important to get into the habit of hydrating your body as often as you can. Your eyes need adequate water to support a healthy level of tear production. If you are ill, you need even more water. Avoid drinking coffee and tea and any food products that will dehydrate you or act as diuretics.

You can tell at once that you need more water if you are experiencing dry mouth. Always keep a bottle of water by your side or at your desk at work so you can easily take a drink. If you have a water fountain at work, use it to fill your bottle whenever you take your breaks.

Water with Lemon Addedhow to reduce eye strain

Photo by Tracey Hocking on UnSplash

You can bring a few lemon or lime slices, thinly sliced, that you can add to a glass with ice and have a nice refreshing drink too. Just pre-slice them at home and put the slices in a baggie to bring to work. Keeping your eyes hydrated will reduce eye strain and dry eye symptoms.

As people age, it is even more important to drink water to keep the body as healthy as possible, along with a mild exercise program, such as daily walking. This also helps with taking in fresh oxygen on a regular basis that the water in your body will deliver throughout the system.  

Daily exposure to sunlight is also important to keep your body’s sleep rhythm (Circadian Rhythm) regulated properly. For older people, it is very important to know how to reduce eye strain and dry eye problems, as the loss of good eye sight can be detrimental to their quality of life late. It is crucial to visit the eye doctor regularly when there are eye issues and to make sure that people use the right reading glasses for daily work, or to get prescription glasses or contact lenses.

Starting Early to Train on Eye Protection

If you have children, educate them early about preventative measures for protecting their eyes. Working on computers, which many children do now while in school and for homework, and hours spent playing video games, means that more people will have eye trouble at an earlier age. It is important for them to start early in using various measures such as the blue light blocking eyeglasses, even if magnification is not needed yet.

Avoiding digital screen glare is essential, much like the glare of the sun when it is very bright. After a short time, it will begin hurting your eyes. Protect young eyes with the right glasses early on, that cut 100 percent UV rays and high-energy visible (HEV) radiation, also known as the blue light from digital screens. Using preventative measures early on means our children will have better eyesight for a longer period of their lives.

Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

November 1, 2018