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How Long Does Eye Strain Last?

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A woman taking off her glasses and rubbing the corner of her eye due to eye strain

If you’ve ever spent too long at a screen or reading a good book, you might have noticed your eyes feeling heavy, almost like they’re completely exhausted. It’s not an emergency—when you have these feelings, you’ve developed a common problem called eye strain. Even though it’s temporary, it’s extremely irritating. But how long does eye strain last?

In most cases, eye strain lasts for a few hours and tends to go away on its own. However, in some instances, it may take a day or so for the symptoms to completely go away. It’s important to note that this length of time can vary from person to person.

What Is Eye Strain?

Eye strain, commonly called digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, is an extremely common eye problem. It typically develops when you spend too long intensely focusing on something, like reading a book, using a screen, or even driving for long periods of time.

The muscles in your eyes and head can start to become strained, leading to discomfort and a wide range of symptoms. It’s recognizable by the heavy, sore feelings in the eyes, almost like they’ve doubled in weight and size.

Why Does Eye Strain Develop?

Our eyes have a complex network of tiny muscles that work together to help us focus on objects at different distances. When we spend long periods of time engaged in activities that require intense visual concentration, these muscles can become tired and strained.

Just like every muscle in the body, the muscles in the eyes can’t be constantly under stress forever. Think of eye strain as a sign that your eyes and brain need a break. They’re sore, they’re tired, and they don’t want to work too hard any longer than they have to!

Signs & Symptoms of Eye Strain

Every person experiences this condition a little differently, so signs and symptoms can vary. After all, your eyes are unique. However, the symptoms generally include:

  • Tired or sore eyes
  • Dryness or itchiness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headaches
  • Increased sensitivity to light

Typically, these symptoms only last for a few hours. However, if you try to push through, or don’t give your eyes a break, they can last up to a day or 2. This makes it essential to avoid developing eye strain where you can.

A woman leaning back in her chair with her arms crossed and she has her eyes closed and she is smiling

Can You Prevent Eye Strain?

Preventing eye strain in the first place is an excellent way to avoid the discomfort and irritation it causes. So it can help to start by optimizing your environment. If you work in an office setting, whether at a workplace or at home, start by:

  • Ensuring proper lighting
  • Minimizing glare
  • Adjusting brightness and contrast settings on your devices
  • Use a comfortable chair and make sure your screen, keyboard, and mouse are all comfortable and easy to access

It can help to think about computer glasses or blue light glasses. These are a type of specialty eyewear that can help reduce the effects of extended screen usage and may make your devices more comfortable for the eyes. And don’t forget to check and see if your devices have a blue light filter!

But changing your environment is just a piece of the puzzle. Don’t forget to:

  • Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule —every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus on something 20 feet away.
  • Make sure your prescription is up-to-date to avoid putting too much stress on your eyes
  • Regularly visit your optometrist to catch any underlying problems

Do You Need to See an Optometrist for Eye Strain?

Eye strain is extremely common, and you don’t always need to seek help from your optometrist. But if you’re constantly experiencing this condition, or have any other vision problems, it can help to consult an eye care professional. You’ll be able to get up-to-date advice and guidance about avoiding eye strain.

Plus, they’ll be able to perform a thorough eye examination and determine if you have any problems causing your symptoms. Then you can get an updated prescription so you have the tools you need to avoid eye strain! Just because eye strain is common doesn’t mean you have to put yourself through the discomfort it causes.

Get Help for Your Eyes

If you’re experiencing eye strain or any other eye-related concerns, reach out to us at Eye Effects. Our passionate and knowledgeable team is here to assist you in maintaining optimal eye health.  Remember, taking care of your eyes is crucial for your overall well-being. Book an appointment with us today, and take the first step toward avoiding eye strain!

Written by Eye Effects

We’ve been providing stellar eye care to our communities in Calgary and Didsbury for over 25 years. At Eye Effects, we aim to be a premier place for individuals of all ages and walks of life to access professional vision care and advanced technology. From comprehensive exams to trendy frames and lenses, we’re sure we have something for all eyes!
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