Eye strain is becoming more and more prevalent, and it is even starting to become one of the most common ailments in the United States. In large part, the rise of eye strain has to do with the increased use of digital technology in which people are beginning to focus their eyes on digital screens – such as a laptop or smartphone – for large periods of time each day.

Without the proper preventive care, staring at anything for large amounts of time each day can lead to eye strain, especially a digital device which emits harmful light that can put stress on our eyes. With the proper care however, eye strain does not have to become an issue, regardless of how much your occupation requires you to strain your eyes. In this article, you will learn exactly how to recognize, treat, and prevent eye strain so it does not hinder your ability to work efficiently or simply enjoy the daily tasks of your everyday life.

In order to treat a case of eye strain and hopefully prevent future instances of eye strain, it is also important to be able to recognize the symptoms of eye strain as well as the warning signs that eye strain is close to becoming an issue. While the signs are not always noticeable, you can detect them quickly and take precautionary measures to ensure the symptoms do not worsen by being well informed and conscious of how to tell if you have eye strain.

Although prevention is the best strategy to ensuring eye strain does not affect your life and alter the way you live on a daily basis, it is not always easy to prevent without knowing what precautionary measures lead to a reduced chance of developing eye strain. However, knowing how to prevent eye strain – which you will learn in this article – helps you be more effective during the work day and after the work day as well.

By having a clear understanding as to what exactly eye strain is, how eye strain presents itself in the early stages, treatment for eye strain, and precautionary measures to take if you are at an increased risk of developing digital eye strain, you can ensure it does not change the way you live your life. However, it is important to be conscious of the effects of eye strain as it is beginning to affect more and more people every day in the United States.

Top Related Article: Protect Eyes From Computer Screen Eye Strain

What Is Eye Strain?

Eye strain is a condition that occurs when the eyes become extremely fatigued from chronic use in which the eyes do not receive the proper rest necessary. Oftentimes, eye strain occurs after the eyes have become dry and sore, although eye strain may be the results of a separate underlying condition that needs to be treated before the eye strain begins to improve.

Eye strain most commonly affects individuals who spend large amounts of time each day in front of a computer screen, such as individuals who work a desk job (i.e. data entry) or high school and college students who use their computer for research purposes. With that said, eye strain is not exclusive to the use of digital devices. There are certain activities outside of staring at an electronic device that can lead to eye strain if done too often as well. A few examples of non-computer related eye strain causes include driving a car or truck for extended periods of time, constantly performing medical operations such as dentistry or surgery, and reading without taking frequent breaks.

In most cases, eye strain is not a serious issue and does not lead to a severe change in your daily routine. In most cases, a mild to moderate case of eye strain can be easily treated without the assistance of a medical professional, although the treatment often requires at-home remedies to help reduce the symptoms and treat the underlying cause. With that said, a more serious case of eye strain often requires medical assistance in order to improve and can become more chronic if left untreated.

In the event a more serious case of eye strain is left untreated for too long, not only can it turn into a chronic condition and lead to having to change your daily routine in order to accommodate the condition, but it can also significantly reduce your effectiveness at your job or school as it can become much more difficult to focus.

However, by noticing the signs and symptoms of eye strain while it is still in its early stages, you can prevent it from becoming chronic and affecting your daily routine.

What does eye strain feel like?

eye strain

While the exact symptoms and signs of eye strain vary for each individual, the most common symptoms to be cautious of are dry eyes, red eyes, and extreme discomfort often leading to a burning sensation in the eyes.

As mentioned previously, truck drivers, medical professionals, and individuals are at an increased risk of developing eye strain, although eye strain most commonly affects individuals who spend large amounts of time in front of a computer screen each day. In order to prevent digital eye strain from affecting the way you live your life on a day-to-day basis, be sure to visit a medical professional if any of the more concerning signs and symptoms of eye strain start to present themselves, or if eye strain has already begun and begins to worsen into a more chronic issue.

Although eye strain can be annoying and cause an extreme amount of discomfort, it is a fairly easy condition to treat, especially with the help of a medical professional.

See Also: Headaches Behind the Eyes

Causes of Eye Strain

Unfortunately, there are various different causes of eye strain, which means the exact cause can be a number of different reasons and is often different for each individual. However, by examining your daily routine and trying to determine activities that put you at an increased risk of eye strain, it is oftentimes evidently clear why you are suffering from eye strain.

With all that said, there are a number of causes of eye strain that are much more common than others. While there are a number of reasons why eye strain occurs, here are the most likely reasons you are suffering from the annoying condition:

  • Excessive use of digital devices
  • Driving for extended periods of time each day without adequate breaks
  • Reading for extended amounts of time without breaks
  • Eyesight problems that lead to straining of the eyes
  • Exposure to bright lights
  • Large amounts of time spent in dry air environments
  • Writing without taking adequate breaks
  • Separate, underlying eye problem exists

In order to fully understand exactly why each one can lead to eye strain – which in return gives you a better understanding as to how to prevent it – let’s take a look at a more in-depth analysis of each common cause.

Related: Eye Strain Causes

Digital Devices

While we go much more in-depth about digital eye strain below, the use of digital devices has quickly become the most common reason for eye strain. In large part, this is due to what is known as blue light emission which almost all digital devices have. Constant and chronic exposure to blue light can put a lot of stress on our eyes throughout each day, causing us to suffer from eye strain as well as other eye related conditions.


Another common cause of eye strain is driving. While most do not view driving as an activity that places an excessive amount of stress on our eyes, it requires extreme focus on one object – the road – for an extended amount of time. Therefore, individuals who drive for large periods of time each day – which is an ever increasing number – are at risk of developing eye strain and need to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid it from hindering their ability to drive safely.


Reading is another activity that can lead to eye strain if the proper precautionary measures are not put into place. While most who read do it as a hobby, there are still many who read daily as a part of their occupation, including researchers, proofreaders, and various types of writers. In the event reading takes up a large part of your day, be sure to give yourself frequent breaks to rest your eyes.

Eyesight Problems

In many cases, eye strain results not due to having to focus on a specific task for too long without breaks, but instead due to having to focus on a task much more than what is necessary. Subsequently, individuals who have poor vision but refuse to seek medical assistance or wear glasses or contacts are at a much higher risk of developing eye strain, even if they do not have a job that requires them to focus intently for large amounts of time each day.

Exposure to Bright Lights

Another common cause that often goes undetected as the reason for eye strain is the exposure to bright lights, which can be found at construction zones and other unique workplaces. Although, exposure to bright lights can also happen at a desk job or even at home. If you have a desk job, be sure to place shades over your lamp and avoid constant exposure to bright lights.

Dry Air Environments

Another very common cause of eye strain is too much time spent in dry air environments. The reason dry air environments are such a common cause of eye strain is due to the fact that a dry air environment can be anywhere, including your home or office. If you begin to suffer from early signs and symptoms of eye strain, be sure to use a humidifier inside your home and office. If you work outdoors, be sure to keep your eyes lubricated to prevent them from becoming too dry.


Writing is a very common cause of eye strain, especially if the writing is done through the use of a computer or laptop, which is the case with most writers. In the event you write for extended amounts of time each day, it is important to take precautionary measures to ensure you do not develop eye strain.

Underlying Eye Problem

In some instances, eye strain has nothing to do with anything going on in your daily routine. Instead, the eye strain may be a result of an underlying eye problem, such as cellulitis. In the event you have checked off every box and there is nothing in your daily routine that could logically lead to a case of eye strain, or there are other more concerning symptoms that accompany your eye strain, be sure to seek medical assistance to find out the root cause of your eye strain.

While we have discussed the most common activities and other conditions that may lead to eye strain, it is also important to be extra cautious if your job puts you at an increased risk of developing eye strain. In the event you work within any of the following three fields, be sure to make an extra effort to prevent eye strain:

  • Drivers (taxi drivers, truck drivers, etc.)
  • Desk jobs
  • Construction workers

Preventing eye strain is not incredibly difficult, but it requires a conscious effort to understand whether or not you are at risk of eye strain and a well-planned method to fight off eye strain. In the event the correct precautionary measures are in place – which is discussed below – you should be able to go through your daily routine in an effective, efficient manner without suffering through eye pain as you do so.

Signs of Eye Strainwhat is eye strain

It is important to be able to recognize the signs in the early stages of eye strain in order to prevent the condition from progressing into a more concerning issue. In the event you suffer from a pre-existing eye complication, then the early signs may mask themselves and be more difficult to detect. However, with the absence of previous eye complications, any of the signs mentioned below should be taken seriously and treated promptly to avoid the development of eye strain.

Although the signs of eye strain are not an exact science and differ for each individual, here are several of the more common early signs that someone in the early stages of eye strain may experience:

  • The early symptoms do not improve with rest.
  • Efficiency at work or school begins to reduce.
  • Symptoms present themselves in children under the age of 12.

First and foremost, the first thing to do if any symptoms start to present themselves (see below for possible symptoms), be sure to give your eyes the proper rest in order for them to recover. In the event rest does not help the early symptoms improve, it may be time to visit an optometrist for a professional medical diagnosis.

In many instances, our eyes simply become tired as our minds become tired. When this occurs, rest not only helps our minds become sharper, but it also allows our eyes to recover and avoid developing eye strain.

Additionally, if your efficiency begins to decrease while at work or school, but you do not feel fatigued except for your eye fatigue, then you may have developed eye strain and should seek proper treatment to avoid the condition from worsening. Since eye strain often makes our minds focus more on our eye fatigue and pain, causing us to squint and look at things over and over again to understand, the efficiency of work and schoolwork often decreases in the early stages of eye strain.

Lastly, children under the age of 12 should not exhibit any serious symptoms associated with eye strain, and if they do it is likely they are suffering from eye strain, especially if they spend a lot of time in front of a digital device. If your child complains about any of the more common eye strain symptoms, be sure to seek home care and consider medical assistance to ensure the condition does not worsen.

Symptoms of Eye Strain

In the event your early symptoms of eye strain progress into a more serious concern or last for more than a week, it is important to take immediate action to try and reduce the symptoms and ultimately recover fully from eye strain. Although many early eye strain symptoms improve on their own or with small changes to your daily lifestyle, more serious symptoms of eye strain may require medical attention in order to fully recover from.

With that said, it is important to have a good understanding of the most common symptoms so that you can notice them when they occur. By looking for and noticing the symptoms of eye strain early, you can ensure you are well prepared to deal with the symptoms in a timely manner. While each case of eye strain is different, here are the most common symptoms experienced with eye strain:

  • Sore or burning eyes
  • Red, dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye fatigue without being tired

In order to gain a full understanding of how each symptom might present itself, let us go into more depth about each particular symptom so that you are able to notice the symptom if it presents itself.

Related: Eye Strain Symptoms

Red, Dry Eyes

what does eye strain feel like

One of the first symptoms, if not the first symptom, of eye strain is almost always red or dry eyes. Unfortunately, red eyes do not necessarily mean that you have eye strain. Instead, it should serve more as a warning sign that eye strain is not far away in the event you begin to suffer from red eyes or dry eyes, assuming there are not any other symptoms yet present. If you live a lifestyle that puts you at an increased risk of developing eye strain, be sure to constantly check your eyes for redness and keep your eyes lubricated in order to prevent them from drying out.

Sore or Burning Eyes

Another very early symptom of eye strain is sore or burning eyes. While it typically starts as soreness that is very tolerable, sore eyes can quickly and without notice progress into a burning sensation, which can hinder your ability to work efficiently or in some cases even work at all on your most important tasks. Also, sore or burning eyes is often the most chronic symptom as it relates to eye strain.

Blurred or Double Vision

Blurred or double is one of the more serious symptoms of eye strain and does not occur in everyone who suffers from eye strain. Subsequently, the absence of blurred or double vision does not necessarily suggest that the individual does not have eye strain. With that said, the presence of blurred or double vision is a very telling sign that eye strain is present, especially if it occurs as the result of chronic activity in front of a digital device.

Sensitivity to Light

In some cases, individuals with eye strain will suffer from an increased sensitivity to light, especially if they are constantly in an environment that has either a lot of glare or a large amount of bright lights. In many cases, sensitivity to light can be reduced, if not completely eliminated, by reducing the amount of glare and bright lights in your work environment, or – and perhaps a more highly recommended tactic – by treating the underlying cause of the eye strain in general.

Eye Fatigue without Being Tired

In many instances, eye strain goes unnoticed and untreated because it disguises itself as simply being tired. If eye fatigue remains despite proper mental rest, there is a high likelihood the cause of the symptom is eye strain, especially if you live a lifestyle that puts you at high risk of the condition. In the event eye fatigue exists despite being tired, try focusing more on eye rest by providing yourself with additional breaks and blinking more often.

There are also some less frequent symptoms that are more concerning. While the aforementioned symptoms should be treated promptly with home remedies and preventive techniques, the following more serious symptoms may require a trip to the optometrist to receive a proper treatment plan:

  • Headaches
  • Sore shoulders and back
  • Difficulty concentrating

Quite simply, anytime your symptoms begin to expand into affecting other parts of your body, it is more than likely a serious case of eye strain that needs prompt care in order to recover. In more serious cases, there is often a headache that accompanies the other symptoms, which can make for a miserable day of work and can even cause you to take a break from your most pressing activities. In the event the symptoms do not require you to stop working, but you have trouble concentrating due to your focus on eye strain, then medical assistance may be in order, especially if the individual is a child.

Diagnosis of Eye Strain

The method of diagnosis by the medical professional that examines you for digital eye strain differs and is largely dependent upon the cause. In other words, an individual who believes they have eye strain as a result of sitting in front of a computer screen for large amounts of time each day may have a different diagnosis procedure then an individual who works in a dry, outdoor environment for the majority of most days.

With that said, there are certain examination and testing procedures that most medical professionals utilize in order to give a proper diagnosis, including questions about medical history, eye examination, and vision testing.

First and foremost, your doctor is likely to ask you a series of questions pertaining to your medical history, current symptoms, and aspects of your daily lifestyle that could contribute to the onset of eye strain. After gathering as much information as possible from asking questions, your doctor is very likely to also conduct an eye examination, meaning she or he will look at your eyes for signs of redness, dry eyes, or swelling on the outside region of your eye. In many instances, questioning and eye examination is enough to give an accurate diagnosis, although it is not uncommon for a medical professional to also test your vision for any signs of diminished ability to see or double vision.

For an even better understanding of what exactly you can expect during your visit to the doctor, here are several questions you may be asked during the appointment:

  • What symptoms are you currently suffering from?
  • Is there pain in your eye? If so, how much pain?
  • What activities does your typical weekday consist of?
  • How much time do you spend on a digital device?
  • Do you currently wear contacts or glasses?
  • Are you currently taking any medication or treatment to deal with your symptoms?

In most cases, your medical professional (typically an optometrist) should be able to give an accurate diagnosis and help you on your path to full recovery, assuming eye strain is indeed the issue.

Along with knowing what to expect going into your doctor’s appointment, there are several things you can do to ensure you are fully prepared for the visit. The main thing that is likely to help your medical professional give you an accurate diagnosis is to gather as much information as possible. Subsequently, keeping a journal of how you spend your time each day for a week and writing down all of the symptoms you suffer from along with the level of severity should give her or him a much better chance to accurately diagnose the eye strain and provide a quality treatment plan tailored just for you.

Additionally, asking questions about topics you are confused about can help ease any nerves you have about the process towards recovering from eye strain. Remember, the majority of treatment is going to happen at home, so be sure to ask your doctor about home remedies that are helpful to not only treat your current case of eye strain, but to also prevent future eye strain from presenting itself.

Also, be sure to gain a full understanding of why exactly you’ve received the particular diagnosis. In other words, ask the doctor about what exactly testing and examination has revealed. Also, be sure to learn as much as possible as to how long the recovery process will take. If you are not in a position to rest and wait for the eye strain to improve before returning to work, let your concerns be heard, and your doctor may be able to help via medication and other more immediate treatment options.

Eye Strain Treatment Optionshow to tell if you have eye strain

There are several treatment options available for individuals who suffer from eye strain. While the best way to deal with eye strain is to prevent it altogether, it is not always realistic or practical to do so, and eye strain often presents itself with little to no warning. Subsequently, it is important to seek out treatment options in the event the early signs and symptoms of eye strain are noticed, and home remedies do not quickly begin to reduce the symptoms.

It is also important to note that treatment options for eye strain are different than home remedies mentioned below. The following treatment options are often prescribed by a doctor, and they may need medical assistance in order to utilize. Therefore, eye strain treatment options are often best left as a second option, and instead it is best to try prevention techniques and home remedies to treat the symptoms of eye strain, especially if they are still in the early stages.

Nevertheless, there are times when visiting a doctor for eye strain treatment is simply necessary. Fortunately, even the more concerning cases of eye strain are able to be treated by a medical professional using one or more of the treatment procedures listed below.

By consulting with your doctor and subsequently implementing one or more of these treatment options, most individuals are able to improve their symptoms if not eliminate them altogether in a matter of a few short weeks and treating eye strain is often a very easy thing to do.

Although eye strain is often very easily treated with the help of a medical professional, it is very crucial to seek medical assistance for eye strain if the early symptoms begin to worsen into a less tolerable severity level or they last for more than a week. Most mild to moderate cases of eye strain improve with simple home remedies and rest. In the event they do not begin to improve or get worse, be sure to get the care you need.

The longer eye strain lasts and the more severe of an issue it becomes, the harder the road to a full, safe recovery will be. Therefore, be sure to visit a doctor and see if either of these four treatment options are right for you and your specific case of eye strain:

  • Prescription eyewear
  • Dry eye therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Rest and relaxation

The exact treatment method your doctor decides to implement is largely dependent upon the cause for your eye strain. In order to have a best understanding over which eye strain treatment option is best for you, let us go more into depth on each treatment method and what exactly each one entails.

Prescription Eyewear

In the event your digital eye strain is the result of poor vision that leads to you constantly straining your eyes in order to see clearly, your doctor is very likely to prescribe prescription eyewear, which typically has the highest success rate in helping individuals overcome eye strain.

With that said, prescription eyewear for the sake of treating eye strain only works if the individual suffers from poor eyesight. Most commonly, a doctor prescribes prescription eyewear to individuals who do not perform well on a visual testing exam, do not currently use prescription eyewear, and do indeed suffer from eye strain.

Check out SightPros Computer Glasses!

Dry Eye Therapy

With the rise in usage of digital technology for work purposes, there is an ever increasing number of individuals developing eye strain as a result of dry eyes. When in front of a computer screen for large amounts of time each day, constantly in a room where the air is dry or exposed to bright lights or extreme glare often, there is a high likelihood of the eyes becoming dry.

Subsequently, it is important to utilize dry eye therapy in order to keep the eyes moisturized, helping you prevent a case of eye strain from occurring and allowing you to treat it if it does occur. The best way to utilize dry eye therapy is to apply artificial tears or lubricating eye drops throughout each day. By doing so, you can avoid your eyes becoming dry, which helps you feel comfortable throughout the day.

Anti-inflammatory Medication

In some instances, digital eye strain may be the result of a pre-existing eye condition, such as cellulitis. Cellulitis – which is a condition in which the eye glands become swollen – often leads to extreme discomfort, dry eyes, and a sore or burning sensation in the eyes. Once this occurs, there is an increased likelihood that you may experience eye strain as a result. In these situations, it is best to not try and treat the eye strain, which is basically a symptom of another eye issue, but instead to treat the underlying condition that causes the eye strain.

For most other eye conditions that involve swelling, there is often anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by the doctor. The anti-inflammatory medication helps the swelling reduce, ultimately reducing the symptoms of eye strain as well. Most commonly, anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed to individuals who suffer from eye strain, but do not live a lifestyle that places them at an increased risk of suffering from eye strain.

Rest and Relaxation

Lastly, the doctor is likely to recommend a certain amount of rest and relaxation in order to give the eyes a chance to heal and recover. While this often includes complete rest for several days, it most often refers to constant rest and relaxation mixed into your daily routine.

More times than not, it is individuals who overwork and fail to give themselves frequent enough breaks that begin to suffer from eye strain. In order to fix this issue, they must start resting their eyes more. In the event taking several days of rest is not feasible, be sure to communicate with your doctor and find out other ways to deal with eye strain that does not involve missing work or school.

With the proper treatment, eye strain should not last more than several weeks after treatment begins.

Prevention and Home Remedies

The best method for dealing with eye strain is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. While there are certainly circumstances where prevention is not always practical and eye strain happens with few warning signs and symptoms, there are certain precautions you can take to reduce the chance of developing eye strain.

Whereas certain treatment methods may require medical assistance and guidance, these home remedies for preventing eye strain can be done safely in your home without guidance from a medical professional.

By implementing the home remedies found below, you can greatly reduce your chance of developing eye strain, regardless of your profession or daily lifestyle:

  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Adjust the lighting.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • Blink more often.
  • Reduce glare.
  • Use digital devices less.

In order to fully understand how these preventive home remedy techniques can help you prevent eye strain from developing, let us discuss in further depth exactly how each precautionary measure helps and when it should be utilized.

See Also: Cooling Eye Mask for Puffy Eyes

Take frequent breaks.

First and most importantly, it is important to take frequent breaks in the event you spend large amounts of time each day focusing your eyes in on a specific task, which is why most individuals suffer from eye strain. By doing so, you give your eyes a chance to recover and not get overly fatigue.

The best way to ensure you take frequent breaks while working in order to give your eyes the rest they need is to implement the 20-20-20 rule. The 20-20-20 rule is simple: look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This rule also serves as a way to remind yourself to take frequent breaks as forgetting to do so is not hard to do.

Use a humidifier.

As has been mentioned, another main cause of eye strain is spending too much time in an environment where the air is very dry. When the air in a room or outdoor work area is dry, it causes the eyes to dry out as well. When the eyes become dry, there is an increased chance of developing eye strain.

With a humidifier, you are able to keep the air moist in rooms where you spend the most amount of time. For example, if you believe the air in your bedroom is causing your eyes to become dry, try placing a humidifier in the room, and you may just be surprised by exactly how much it helps prevent eye strain.

Adjust the lighting.

For individuals who have a job or lifestyle that requires them to spend large amounts of time exposed to bright lights while at work, try your best to adjust the lighting to something that is well lit, yet not too dim to where you are unable to see the task you are working on.

While lights that are too bright often occur at work, improper lighting at home can also lead to eye strain. Be sure to keep lamp shades on your lamps at home, reduce unnecessary light, and avoid staring into bright lights by accident. While it may seem like a small detail, bright lights often play a large role in the onset of eye strain.

Wear sunglasses.

In the event the bright lights cannot be adjusted, meaning you work outside for extended periods of time each day, be sure to give your eyes the needed protection from the sun. Anyone who has ever spent an increased amount of time outside at once probably understands exactly how dry eyes can get from sun exposure.

For individuals who work outside most days, it is very important to give your eyes the proper protection. The best way to do this is to wear sunglasses that protects from ultraviolet light. By giving your eyes protection outside via sunglasses, it keeps them from becoming too dry or sore, which often leads to a chronic condition of eye strain.

Blink more often.

Although it may seem silly or unnecessary, blinking more often actually helps prevent eye strain from developing. It is very easy to forget to blink frequently, especially when focusing intently on a certain task. However, when you start to feel or see signs that eye strain is not far away, be sure to take a break, and remember to blink more frequently once you return to work.

By doing so, your eyes will not become nearly as sore and dry, which ultimately helps you prevent eye strain from occurring. Blinking is easy, and blinking more often is probably one of the simpler things to do when attempting to prevent eye strain from developing while at work or when focusing intently on school work.

Reduce glare.

Reducing glare does not necessarily mean wear sunglasses while outdoors and keeping lights at the appropriate adjustment level while indoors. Instead, be sure to prevent outdoor light from affecting you while inside. Be sure to use quality curtains while indoors, especially while you are working at a desk. Also, try and arrange your desk in a manner where it minimizes the amount of glare at your workstation.

During outdoor activity, make sure that the glare from the sun is not affecting you even if you are wearing sunglasses. Very often the glare from the sun can hit off of the ground and get into our eyes. Do your best to plan for such times, and try to reduce the amount of glare in order to prevent the onset of eye strain.

Use digital devices less.

While we discuss digital eye strain in depth below, it is important to mention again that digital eye strain is quickly becoming the biggest form of eye strain. While using a digital device, be sure to keep your screen adjusted to a level that is easy on your eyes and does not require you to squint or strain to see what you are looking at. Also, be sure to take frequent breaks and simply minimize the amount you use your digital device as much as possible.

About Digital Eye Straintreating eye strain

Digital eye strain – which is often referred to as computer vision syndrome – is an eye strain condition that results from the constant use of digital devices, which include laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The symptoms, signs and treatment options are often different than the typical case of eye strain, and it is important to have a good understanding of exactly how digital eye strain is different than other forms of eye strain, as it is quickly becoming the leading eye strain type in the United States.

Related: Best Glasses for Eye Strain

By having a better understanding about what exactly digital eye strain is and how it presents itself, you will be better able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms, receive proper treatment, and even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

First and foremost, the most obvious difference between typical eye strain and digital eye strain is the causes. Quite simply, the causes of digital eye strain are due to some sort of digital device. As mentioned earlier, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are certainly several of the more well documented devices that can cause digital eye strain if used too often. However, there are many other digital devices that can lead to digital eye strain.

Here is a list of common digital devices that can cause digital eye strain:

  • Desktop computer
  • Laptop
  • Television
  • Tablet
  • Gaming console

Any digital device that is used for more than two hours without a break can lead to the onset of digital eye strain. Therefore, be conscious of digital eye strain when using these devices.

Since the causes of digital eye strain are different, it only makes sense that the symptoms of digital eye strain are different also. While many of the symptoms are similar – such as sore eyes, red eyes, and eye fatigue – there are several other symptoms that are unique to digital eye strain specifically. The most common signs and symptoms that point towards the possibility of digital eye strain include: extreme eye irritation, head and neck pain, and chronic headaches.

Additionally, it is fairly common for other conditions to exist alongside digital eye strain, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In the event any of the aforementioned symptoms that are specific to digital eye strain are experienced, it is important to implement precautionary measures into your daily lifestyle to prevent the symptoms from progressing into something more serious. By seeking prompt care, your eye strain symptoms should begin to go away in less than a week.

In the event your symptoms do not improve after a week of home care and rest, be sure to contact your local optometrist and schedule an appointment for an official diagnosis. In the event the eye strain is indeed caused by the use of a digital device, and you are able to accurately describe your daily routine and current symptoms to your optometrist, she or he should be able to accurately diagnose you and provide you with a quality treatment procedure to reduce the digital eye strain, or eliminate the eye strain altogether.

The most common treatment methods for digital eye strain are very similar to the most common treatment methods of eye strain in general. In most cases, your medical professional is likely to suggest treating the digital eye strain through the utilization of dry eye therapy and plenty of rest and relaxation.

Dry eye therapy, which is designed to help keep the eyes lubricated and prevent dry eyes, allows you to work for longer periods of time without your eyes becoming irritated. Ensuring you receive the proper amount of rest each night allows your eyes to keep from getting fatigued by the blue light that is emitted by most digital devices. With the proper treatment, your digital eye strain symptoms, regardless of how severe, should go away within a few weeks after treatment has begun. If not, time off from work or school may be in order to effective address the condition.

Additionally, much like all forms of eye strain, digital eye strain can be prevented by implementing the proper at-home care techniques, including reducing glare, blinking more often, and taking frequent breaks. However, there are various additional things you can do to avoid digital eye strain from happening altogether.

Here are a few of the most successful strategies for preventing digital eye strain:

  • Place the computer screen farther away.
  • Use a screen glare filter.
  • Adjust the settings on your computer.
  • Find ways around using your computer or laptop.

By adjusting both the text size on your computer screen as well as the lighting – along with placing the computer screen further away and using a screen filter – you can greatly reduce the chance of developing digital eye strain. In some cases, there may even be a way around using your computer, which most certainly helps prevent digital eye strain as well.

As long as you take the necessary precautions, are able to identify the warning signs once digital eye strain starts to present itself, and seek the best at-home treatment options once digital eye strain does develop, you can keep digital eye strain from significantly hindering the way you live your day-to-day life.

On the other hand, failure to notice the early signs and symptoms of digital eye strain or act upon the signs or symptoms if they are noticed can lead to a more severe, chronic form of digital eye strain, which can significantly limit your ability to work efficiently or in a comfortable manner.

Related: Digital Eye Strain

In the event your digital eye strain does start to limit your ability to work in an efficient manner, or it becomes incredibly challenging to work without eye fatigue and soreness, then you may need to see an optometrist in order to see the symptoms improve.

In many instances, your medical professional should be able to help you reduce the effects of your digital eye strain in just a few short weeks, and you can get back to functioning in an effective and efficient manner in no time.


It usually does not take long to recover from an eye strain, regardless of the type of eye strain. However, there is not a set recovery time for all eye strains, and the exact time of recovery is largely dependent on several factors, including the severity of the eye strain, how long the eye strain has lasted, and the individual’s ability to rest during recovery.

Along with following the treatment the way it was meant to be followed, receiving proper rest is crucial to recovering from eye strain. In most cases, it only takes a week or two to make a full recovery from both eye strain and computer vision syndrome.

With that said, without the proper treatment procedure being followed recovering from eye strain can take weeks, if not months, to fully recover from. As mentioned, the main ingredient to any great eye strain treatment plan is rest. Without proper rest, the eyes are not able to recover from the previous damage done, and there is a high likelihood that the condition does not improve at all. In the event the eyes are given the proper rest, but there are not any other precautionary measures or treatment procedures administered, there is a good chance that it could take much longer than necessary to recover.

On the other hand, by receiving the proper treatment, implementing the necessary daily changes to your lifestyle, and receiving an adequate amount of rest, you can fully recover from your eye strain in a matter of a few short days. While it may require you to limit your productivity at work or school in the short term in order to give your eyes the necessary time off they deserve, you will ultimately be much more efficient in the long run by doing what it takes to make a speedy recovery.

In the event you are not able to slow play your usual activity for a week or so, there are other things you can do to ensure an even faster recovery. As has been mentioned, rest, particularly eye rest, is your best friend while recovering from eye strain. In the event you simply want to recover as quickly as possible and eliminate your symptoms very quickly, consider taking a few days for yourself, resting, and pampering your eyes with home remedy treatments for a few days. For several days, try doing nothing other than sleeping, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and applying a warm compress to your eyes several times each day. You should be able to see drastic improvements to your eye strain condition in just a few short days.

In the event your eye strain does not improve despite doing everything in your power to eliminate the symptoms, be sure to consult with a medical professional. In some instances, the eye strain may be a symptom of a more concerning eye issue, and it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis before continuing anymore self-treatment. With the help of a medical professional, you should feel confident going into your treatment.


Although there are times where eye strain is simply unavoidable and presents few signs before developing, it is an easy condition to prevent and treat promptly as long as you know the right precautionary measures to take to prevent it and what the warning signs and symptoms look like once it begins to show itself.

While most of the time eye strain improves either on its own, with rest, or with the combination of rest and home remedies, there are times when it is necessary to visit an optometrist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

In the event your eye strain symptoms begin to worsen or turn into a chronic issue that does not improve with preventive care, be sure to seek the necessary assistance in order to ensure the eye strain is properly treated and does not develop into a more serious, long term concern.

Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

October 25, 2018