Do your eyes feel gritty, tired, or exhausted after a long day? There are a lot of reasons to contribute to eye fatigue.
Whether you’re spending hours working in front of a computer or forgetting to blink throughout the day, these habits can contribute to your eyes feeling like they are working overtime. Keep reading to discover why your eyes are so tired and fatigued and what you can do to make them feel better!
What is Eye Fatigue?
Eye fatigue, eye strain, or digital eye strain are all names for the same thing. If you’re experiencing eye fatigue, it means that your eyes are tired and being overworked.
The most common reason people suffer from eye fatigue is spending too much time looking at digital devices, like computers, smartphones, or tablets. Symptoms of eye fatigue include:
- Eyes that won’t stop watering
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
- Experiencing neck and shoulder pain
- Having eyes that burn, itch, and feel generally uncomfortable
- You become more sensitive to light
- It becomes more challenging to concentrate
If you have eye fatigue or eye strain, you may experience all of the symptoms, or you may only experience a few of them.
Causes of Eye Fatigue
Because there are so many different signs and symptoms of eye fatigue, many things can make your eyes feel exhausted. This could vary from allergies, increased screen time, or dry eye syndrome.
If you have seasonal allergies, they share many of the same symptoms with eye strain. Your eyes may feel puffy, water uncontrollably, or get itchy, especially when you go outside.
Short of staying inside during allergy season, you can avoid allergy symptoms getting worse by being vigilant. Check the pollen levels and air quality before planning outdoor activities to reduce your contact with allergens.
If your eyes are causing you discomfort, take allergy medication like antihistamines to minimize any severe allergic reactions. Keep taking allergy medications to keep them in your system and working.
Spending Too Much Time in Front of Screens
There’s no way to stop looking at screens completely, but you can look at them and still take care of your eyes. When you spend time looking at digital devices, it reduces your blink rate.
If you’re not blinking as much, this contributes to feelings of dryness and discomfort. The best thing you can do while looking at screens is to make sure you’re taking frequent breaks.
By following something called the 20-20-20 rule, you can give your eyes the rest they need. Start by looking away from your screen at an object that’s twenty feet away every twenty minutes.
Continue looking at this for at least twenty seconds. Looking away from your screen, even for only twenty seconds, helps your eyes rest and relax.
If your eyes feel dry, you can use eye drops or drink water to stay hydrated as well. Set a timer on your phone if you’re concerned about forgetting to take breaks.
Taking the time to blink, relax, and rest your eyes throughout the day can make a big difference. You may start to notice that your eyes don’t feel as tired or spent at the end of the day when you regularly practice the 20-20-20 rule!
Dry Eye Syndrome
Another common reason that your eyes can feel tired is a chronic condition called dry eye syndrome. Having dry eyes is one of the symptoms, but people with dry eye syndrome can also experience symptoms like:
- Watery eyes
- Burning or redness
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Grittiness or a foreign body sensation that feels like something is in the eye
- Eye fatigue
Millions of people around the world suffer from dry eye syndrome, but they may not know it!
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Several things can cause dry eye syndrome, but it usually develops because you aren’t producing enough tears or the tears being produced are low quality. To create tears, you have something called a tear film that covers the surface of the eye.
The tear film has three layers made up of oil, water, and mucus. Each layer of the tear film is a crucial component of keeping your tears healthy. If even one layer of the tear film is missing, you can start developing dry eye symptoms.
Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
If your eyes are dry, tired, and causing you discomfort, there are some things you can do to treat your symptoms on your own, like:
- Drinking more water
- Making small lifestyle changes such as using a humidifier in your home
- Incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet
- Using a warm compress or washcloth for five to ten minutes to provide relief
- Reduce the amount of time you spend looking at screens when you’re not working
- Use eye drops and artificial tears when your eyes feel dry to alleviate symptoms quickly
If at-home treatments aren’t helping, Bausch Eye Associates offers our patients a Dry Eye Center of Excellence, with treatment options like punctal plugs, iLux, and TearLab, among many others. Which treatment your eye doctor recommends for you will depend on the severity of your dry eye symptoms, as well as what is the root cause of your dry eyes.
Punctal plugs are available in both permanent and temporary forms. With temporary punctal plugs, they dissolve over time. Punctal plugs are small plugs inserted into the tear ducts to prevent your tears from draining out.
By wearing punctal plugs, tears stay on the surface of the eye for longer, providing much-needed moisture and nutrients.
iLux is a dry eye treatment option for patients whose dry eyes are caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). MGD occurs when the eye’s meibomian glands become blocked, making it impossible to produce enough oil in your tears.
If your tears lack the right amount of oil, they will evaporate from the eyes more quickly than they should. Without the proper oil levels, this can lead to uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye syndrome or another condition called blepharitis.
With iLux, your Bausch Eye Associates ophthalmologist in Allentown uses LED light applied to both the inner and outer eyelids, which helps melt any blockages in the glands. They will compress your eyelids while using gentle heat, giving you the relief you need from dry eyes and MGD.
If your eye doctor suspects that you have dry eye syndrome, they’ll test and analyze your tears using our TearLab device. TearLab both analyzes your tears and measures their osmolarity.
The osmolarity of your tears refers to their salt content. If your tears have a high osmolarity, this can be an indicator that the tears are unhealthy. Using TearLab is the first crucial step to determining if you have dry eye syndrome and getting you the relief you need.
If you’re tired of dealing with eye fatigue and symptoms of eye strain on your own, it’s time to ask for help. Schedule an appointment at Bausch Eye Associates in Allentown, PA, today, and begin your journey to happier and healthier eyes!