Common causes of eyestrain include:

  • Looking at digital device screens
  • Reading without pausing to rest your eyes
  • Driving long distances and doing other activities involving extended focus
  • Being exposed to bright light or glare
  • Straining to see in very dim light
  • Having an underlying eye problem, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error)
  • Being stressed or fatigued
  • Exposure to dry moving air from a fan, heating or air-conditioning system

Computer use

Extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of eyestrain. The American Optometric Association calls this computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain. People who look at screens two or more hours in a row every day are at greatest risk of this condition.

Computer use strains eyes more than reading print material because people tend to:

  • Blink less while using computers (blinking is key to moistening the eyes)
  • View digital screens at less-than-ideal distances or angles
  • Use devices that have glare or reflection
  • Use devices with poor contrast between the text and the background

In some cases, an underlying eye problem, such as eye muscle imbalance or uncorrected vision, can cause or worsen computer eyestrain.

Some other factors that can make the condition worse include:

  • Glare on your screen
  • Poor posture
  • Setup of your computer work station
  • Circulating air, such as from air conditioning or a nearby fan
Aug. 13, 2015