Common Signs & Symptoms

Headaches

Eye strain can lead to headaches and muscle tension or tightness extending into the neck, shoulders, or upper back.

Blurred Vision

Extended periods of driving or computer use often result in distorted, blurred vision or a difficulty focusing.

Dry, Tired Eyes

Eye strain is often described as tired eyes, dryness, itchiness, and sensitivity. Your eyes may also appear red and watery.

Did reading in dim light damage my eyes?

Extended Use of Your Eyes & Refractive Errors Cause Eye Strain

Anyone who actively uses their eyes for long periods of time in order to drive, use a computer, or scroll through apps on their phone, is at risk. Performing these activities in very bright or dim light can also make symptoms worse. But unlike what your mother might have told you, eye strain is a temporary and harmless condition.

Stress, fatigue, and poor posture can contribute to eye strain. Windy conditions or exposure to fans, heating, and air conditioning systems are also contributors.

Most importantly, tiredness, blurring, and other symptoms may indicate undiagnosed nearsightedness or farsightedness, or another condition such as dry eye.

Why Does Eye Strain Occur?

Decreased Blinking

Blinking naturally moistens the eyes. But tasks such as driving and looking at digital devices decrease how often we blink. In fact, computer use has been found to reduce blink rate by up to 80 percent.

Continuous Focusing

When screens or other objects are at less-than-ideal angles, or too near or too far away, our eyes have to work overtime. Failing to rest the eyes by varying your focus distance can also contribute to eye strain.

Poor Image Quality

Another major factor that tires the eyes is how easily you can view something clearly. Glare on a screen or poor contrast between text on a website and the color of the background, for example, naturally lead to increased strain over time.

So should I worry?

“Although eye strain can be annoying, it usually is not serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. But in cases where sufferers really do need glasses, or have a treatable condition such as dry eye syndrome, visiting a medical professional is necessary."

Andrew A. Dahl, Board-Certified Ophthalmologist

You Can Improve Eye Strain With Several Simple Steps

Limit Screen Time

Since computers, tablets, and phones are major culprits, set a limit on how many hours you use these devices throughout the day.

Rest Your Eyes

Many of us obviously need to spend at least eight hours a day on the computer. Set reminders and make the 20-20-20 rule a habit. For every 20 minutes of screen time, spend at least 20 seconds looking at something 20 or more feet away.

Keep Eyes Lubricated

Avoid sitting in the direct line of a fan, AC vent, or other appliances that physically dry your eyes. Keep wetting drops handy to use, as needed, throughout the day.

What can I expect during an exam?

Diagnosing Eye Strain

Diagnosing eye strain is generally as simple as discussing your symptoms, occupation, and other lifestyle factors with your eye doctor.

vision chart with glasses

Blurred vision is a symptom of eyestrain, but it can also mean you need glasses.

In order to rule out a refractive error, you may be asked to undergo a visual acuity test. This non-invasive screening method involves looking at eye charts, both near and far, and reading lines of text or individual letters out loud.

Are preventive measures enough?

Treatment is Rarely Needed

Medical treatment is only necessary if you have an underlying cause of eye strain. Otherwise, resting your eyes and being more mindful of harmful habits are measures you can take starting today. Stock up on lubricating eye drops, minimize environmental irritants, set your phone timer to remember to take breaks, and remember: just put the phone down already!

This sounds doable …

A Eye Exam Is Still Recommended

Undiagnosed refractive errors and untreated dry eye can have damaging and even dangerous effects. To rule out these causes of eye strain, schedule an exam with your eye doctor today.

Message

Scheduled exam online same day. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. Dr. Nelson was amazing and they had the latest and greatest technology. I will definitely be bringing my family here for all our future vision needs. Highly recommend! Jennifer S.

Message

Scheduled exam online same day. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. Dr. Nelson was amazing and they had the latest and greatest technology. I will definitely be bringing my family here for all our future vision needs. Highly recommend! Jennifer S.

We have 4 locations in the greater Austin area

View Locations

Social Accounts Sprite Icon Sprite

Cedar Park Office

11200 Lakeline Mall Blvd Cedar Park, TX 78613

More Info Directions (512) 401-6000

College Station Office

1500 Harvey Rd
Ste 7000 College Station, TX 77840

More Info Directions (979) 693-7528

Bee Cave Office

12921 Hillcountry Blvd Bee Cave, TX 78738

More Info Directions (512) 263-1023

Austin Office

2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy
Ste F7 Austin, TX 78746

Open Today 10:00am - 7:00pm

More Info Directions (512) 306-8949

Message

Scheduled exam online same day. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. Dr. Nelson was amazing and they had the latest and greatest technology. I will definitely be bringing my family here for all our future vision needs. Highly recommend! Jennifer S.