It’s 3 a.m. You can’t stop. It’s just too good. Your eyes are glued to the page, sweeping over every word. But you’ve been at it for hours, and your eyes are beginning to hurt. Sound familiar? Eyestrain is a recurring problem for many and can make any good book a frustrating pursuit. Luckily, avoiding unnecessary stress on your eyes is fairly easy.

Just like with other parts of the body, when your eyes are overused, they become fatigued and stop working properly. This is common when you’re visually focused on one thing for long periods of time. When the muscles  that focus your eyes get strained, that’s when blurred vision, pain in or around the eyes, headache, and even double vision occur. 

Identifying the source of the strain

Typically, visually intensive tasks for extended periods are responsible for wearing out your eyes. Staring at screens and reading printed text are the most common culprits, but out-of-focus projectors, blurred images, and televisions with a visible flicker can also put a strain on your eyesight. Also, if you’re not wearing the right prescription you’ll find your eyes having to over-work. 

Tips for prevention and relief

When you’re going to be reading or looking at a computer monitor for over an hour, the best way to avoid straining your eyes is by giving them a chance to reset. Simply use the CDC’s 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. Focusing on an object at a different distance will help the muscles in the eyes relax and/or find different positions. 

Another option is to spend time in a dark room. With nothing for your eyes to focus on, they will naturally relax and relieve any pain and discomfort. 

If fatigue persists, or you continue to experience eyestrain issues daily after trying these tips, go see your doctor for an eye exam. Eyestrain can also be caused by mild vision problems, so use your VSP Individual Vision Plan for long-term eye health and relief.


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