Effect of home quarantining and eye strain

April 30, 2020

EYE strain or “asthenopia” is a common condition that may affect adults and children. It develops when eyes get tired from being used too much.

You may have experienced it before: your eyes start to dry and you feel a headache forming after staring at your laptop the entire day. You try to blink your eyes but it’s not enough and now you are looking for answers.

What you are experiencing is called eye strain and it is a common occurrence especially in this digital age. And what's more, it can be aggravated during this health crisis when everybody is cooped at home.

Eye strain is a common condition that may affect adults and children. It develops when eyes get tired from being used too much and/or for too long without rest.

When people were cooped at home and waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to end, people spend more time on their digital devices for those who work from home and those for leisure.

Asthenopia is not exclusive to those who are glued to their screens the entire day. This can also happen to you if you have certain eye conditions, or when you have been doing a prolonged activity without resting your eyes. This includes driving and even reading for extended periods of time. 

According to Mayo Clinic, dry eye happens when your eyes are not producing enough tears to lubricate your eyes, while eye strain is the result of having tired eyes. You may experience blurred vision and your eyes may feel dry, irritated, and look a bit reddish.

Again, eye strain can also be experienced by individuals who:

- Read books for long periods of time;

- Use their digital devices in uncomfortable positions or in dark conditions

Work under bright lighting;

- Have underlying eye conditions;

- Are exposed to erratic room temperatures (cold air-conditioning or hot/dry air from outside).

The best way to avoid getting eye strain is to give your eyes time to rest in between tasks.

Mayo Clinic recommends the following home remedies in treating eye strain:

• Adjust lighting. Soft lighting while reading or watching television can reduce the amount of stress on your eyes.

• Get your eyes checked. A visit to an ophthalmologist can help you determine if you need to wear corrective glasses. Your doctor may also recommend certain coatings on your lenses that can filter out certain harmful lighting.

• Improve your air quality. Avoid direct exposure to fans and other sources of dry air like your air-conditioning units. Smoking also causes irritation to your eyes.

• Use eye lubricants.  Your healthcare provider may prescribe lubricants for your eyes to help relieve your condition. Make sure to use only as prescribed and avoid overusing the product.

• Avoid prolonged staring at one object and blink often to refresh your eyes.

• Practice the 20-20-20 rule: Look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of staring at something.

• Find the right position for yourself when you use your digital devices. Opt to use larger fonts and ensure that your screen is not too bright nor too dark, and is placed just below eye level.

It may be challenging for a lot of people to avoid facing a digital screen, but it is still possible to alleviate the symptoms of eye strain as we accomplish daily tasks. Make it a habit to schedule breaks in between screen time, and explore other entertainment options like board games or sports to help reduce your usage of digital devices.