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Why do my eyes feel constantly tired?

Experiencing tired eyes is a very common feeling. Some people feel their eyes are tired after focusing for a long time – whether that’s reading, doing work on the computer, or even driving. Everyone’s eyes have a focusing system built in, and we use this focusing system to do work up close. As we spend more and more time doing things in close range, our focusing system can get overworked, causing eyestrain!

Things we can do to help alleviate eyestrain:

  • Practice Good Visual Hygiene

It’s important to practice good visual habits, known as “visual hygiene”. This means keeping a good distance between your eyes and your computer or reading material – at least 40 inches or so is recommended. Another good rule of thumb is the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This lets the eyes go back into their “relaxed” state and gives them a break from the state of focus they’ve been stuck in! Just like going to the gym and taking breaks between sets, it is important to give your eyes a break too.

  • Combat dryness for Eye Comfort

The feeling of eyestrain in your eyes can also stem from increased dryness on the eyes’ surface. Research indicates that prolonged computer use often leads to decreased blinking, allowing tears to evaporate faster, exacerbating feelings of strain and discomfort. There are many ways to help combat our eyes from feeling dry. Practicing good visual hygiene can help increase our blink rate and minimize dryness. You may also want to consider trying artificial tears, especially if you experience any other symptoms related to dry eyes – eye irritation, discomfort, itching, or grittiness are some of these additional symptoms. Additionally, incorporating  warm compresses into your daily routine for 10 minutes can promote optimal function of the oil glands in our eyelids, which helps prevent our tears from evaporating off the surface of our eyes as quickly.

  • Consider Corrective Lenses

If you are finding that your eyes are continuing to feel tired after trying the above, it might be time to consider corrective lenses (glasses, contact lens). Uncorrected vision issues can strain the eyes or lead to squinting. As we age, the eye’s focusing system naturally weakens, making it essential to consider glasses tailored for the computer or close-range activities. An Optometrist can make recommendations on suitable eyewear options to correct your vision, alleviate eyestrain, and recommend coatings on eyeglasses to reduce factors like glare (e.g from the computer screen), which contribute to eye fatigue. 

Although symptoms of eyestrain may be alleviated with rest, dry eye management or wearing corrective lenses, it’s always a good idea to have a comprehensive eye examination. This allows your Optometrist to provide a thorough evaluation and ensure there are no other serious issues affecting your eyes.

-by  Optometric Extern Avery Fitzgerald and Dr. Winnie Tseng

Written by Littleton Eye Care Center

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