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How Long Does Eye Strain Last?

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A woman sitting on her couch with her laptop on her lap, and she is also rubbing her eyes with her hand due to eye strain

Eye strain is a common problem that arises from the prolonged use of digital screens like smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. It’s becoming more prevalent as we navigate this modern digital age and can affect people’s lives adversely. 

Eye strain can cause discomfort, fatigue, headaches, and difficulty focusing. The duration of eye strain varies from person to person and can depend on multiple factors. But it usually goes away about an hour after your last interaction with a screen.

Regular eye exams can monitor your eye health and detect any problems early. However, visit your eye doctor anytime you have concerns about symptoms related to digital device usage. 

What Is Eye Strain?

Eye strain is when your eyes become tired or irritated from intense focusing on an activity. Several factors contribute to eye strain, including digital devices and near-focused work.

For instance, prolonged exposure to computer screens, smartphones, and tablets, mainly due to their bright backlighting and blue light emission, can cause eye strain. 

Besides, reading books, magazines, and newspapers and driving for an extended period can also cause eye strain. Eye conditions such as dry eyes can also contribute to eye strain.

How Long Does Eye Strain Last?

There’s no definitive number to how long eye strain lasts, as it can depend on an individual. Some may experience it for a few minutes, while others may have to deal with it for an extended period. 

Generally, eye strain occurs when the eyes go through extended periods of focusing on digital screens, leading to discomfort and fatigue. Typically, eye strain can subside within one hour after you stop engaging in the activity causing it, such as using a digital device. 

Eye strain is temporary and may not lead to permanent eye damage. Chronic eye strain, often associated with prolonged screen time or the presence of an underlying condition, may prolong eye strain symptoms. 

A woman takes off her glasses and rubs the side of her head due to digital eye strain from her tablet and smartphone

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome refers to eye strain and other vision-related problems resulting from prolonged screen time. Because of the extended and close-range nature of digital device usage, the eye muscles need to contract to allow vision clarity. 

However, the continued contraction doesn’t give your eyes a break to relax, and this can lead to digital eye strain symptoms, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Tired eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache

Staring at screens for extended periods of time also leads to less frequent blinking. Blinking is vital for eye health, as it helps produce and maintain a lubricated eye surface. When staring at screens, the blink rate can go from 17 times per minute, the average, to only 4 times per minute. 

The discomfort of digital eye strain can affect quality of life and productivity. If you’re squinting, rubbing your eyes, or your eyes feel heavy and sore, they can be signs a break is much-needed. 

How to Prevent Eye Strain

While you can’t totally avoid digital screens and near-focused activities due to work and school, preventing eye strain is crucial for ensuring eye health. Adopting strategies and preventative measures can go a long way in managing symptoms and decreasing eye strain.

Take Frequent Breaks

We can all get caught up in staring at our screens. Give your eyes a break by following the simple 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It allows the eye muscles to relax after intense focusing. 

Blink Frequently

The eyes naturally blink less with intense staring. Remember to blink more often or pair blinking with the 20-20-20 rule so you don’t forget. It can moisturize the eyes and reduce dry eyes and irritation. 

Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops provide additional moisture to the eyes. Artificial tears can alleviate discomfort from dry eyes, which is common in eye strain. 

Computer Glasses

Speak to your eye doctor about eyeglass lenses for computer use. Special coating on your lens can reduce your exposure to blue light emitted by digital screens. 

Adjust Your Computer & Screen Settings

Adjust the screen brightness and contrast of electronic devices to the surrounding light, use anti-glare or screen filters to minimize glare and reflections, and keep a safe distance from computer screens—an arm’s length from your eyes and at or slightly below eye level. 

Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Regular eye exams can monitor eye changes and help maintain proper eyesight. They can also detect any underlying conditions early before they progress or worsen. During your eye exam, your eye doctor can check if you have the correct prescription. Undercorrected prescriptions can cause discomfort when using screens. 

Help to Minimize Eye Strain

Eye strain is a common condition that affects many people due to prolonged exposure to digital screens and other activities requiring prolonged focusing of the eyes. While the symptoms are temporary and resolve once you stop engaging in the activity causing it, you can take measures to protect your vision. 

Book an appointment with Vivid Eye Care in Calgary for any concerns or changes in vision. Our eye doctors can help you minimize eye strain.

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Cranston Market

Our Cranston Market clinic is part of the Cranston Market Clinic and is just 2 minutes off Deerfoot Trail near Stoney Trail SE. We’re located on Cranston Road SE, located in the same plaza as Sobeys and Scotiabank.

Our Address

  • 356 Cranston Road SE #1020
  • Calgary, AB T3M 0S9

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Our Meadows Mile clinic is located on the ground level of the Meadows Miles Professional Building facing Blackfoot Trail. We are just 2 minutes from Deerfoot and Glenmore Trail between Southland and Heritage Drives, up the hill from Ikea near the luxury car dealerships.

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  • 8500 Blackfoot Trl. SE, Unit 130
  • Calgary, AB T2J 7E1

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