Stopping and Preventing Eyestrain - Smart Vision Labs

If you feel a headache coming on at work, it might be from eyestrain, not that spreadsheet.

Perhaps you know the feeling of trying to rub the sleep from your eyes during a long work or study session. Your eyelids are heavy and your shoulders feel stiff but you have couple hours of work waiting to be done. Your head aches just thinking about it. But before you reach for another cup of coffee, see if you’re feeling the effects of eyestrain instead.

What It Feels Like

Eyestrain can cause a few different symptoms in the eyes. Your eyes may be watery or dry. They could feel itchy or tired. Some even notice blurry or double vision.

It can even cause symptoms in places other than your eyes. Headaches, sore shoulders, and neck pain are all additional signs that you’re experiencing eyestrain.

How It Happens

Eyestrain happens when the eyes are overworked or are subjected to poor conditions. This can occur if you spend a long time focusing on a single activity without breaks, like using a computer, reading a book, or driving long distances. Bad conditions which can contribute to eyestrain are things like lighting that is too dim or too bright, dryness from being near an air-conditioning or heating vent, or poor posture.

How to Fix It

The good thing is that eyestrain isn’t permanent at all. It goes away soon after you stop doing whatever it is that is hurting your eyes. Even better, not only is it easy to fix, it is easy to prevent. There are some simple steps you can take right away to help you get relief.

Blinking more is something you can do at any time in any situation. When people focus on a single task, they tend to blink far less. This dries their eyes out and irritates them. Every 20 minutes or so, try to make a several full, closed-eye blinks. If you’re using a computer or reading, you can also use these quick breaks to walk around and allow your eyes to focus on things farther away.

Computer Use

On a computer, your screen shouldn’t be more bright or more dim than the room you are using it in. Try to avoid overhead lighting as this causes glare which isn’t good for your eyes. If that isn’t possible, glasses with anti-reflective coating or a matte computer screen are other ways to reduce glare.


To stop eyestrain while reading, make sure the pages are lit well enough. Your light source, whether it is a lamp in your bedroom or the sun at the beach, should be behind you and on the page. This allows your reading material to have as much contrast between the dark print and light pages as possible, making it easy for your eyes to scan the words.


Steps to prevent eyestrain while driving happen before you get behind the wheel. Keeping the windshield and lights of your vehicle clean will give you the best visibility, regardless of the amount of sunlight or weather conditions. If you have prescription glasses, always drive with them on. You may find that a pair of glasses with anti-reflective coating helps reduce glare from the lights of other vehicles. If you are taking a very long road trip over many hours, it is safest to take rest stops to allow both your eyes and body a break.

How is Your Vision?

If you’re still experiencing eyestrain after taking some measures to stop it, you may be due for a vision exam. Using an old pair of glasses or not having prescription lenses at all (if you need them) can cause eyestrain as well. You don’t want your vision to cause you a headache.

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