Have you ever had headaches somewhere around your eyes? These headaches are called eye strain headaches, and they are common for tech professionals, like yourself — working long hours on a computer can be aggravating. Eye strain headaches can be quite a pain, and in this article, I'll dive into:
1. What is an Eye Strain Headache?
2. What Causes Eye Strain Headaches?
3. Symptoms of Eye Strain
4. How to Prevent an Eye Strain Headache
5. Management of Eye Strain Headaches
An eye strain headache is a type of headache that results from too much workload on the ocular muscles. It could be from improper alignment of both eyes, refractive errors, focusing on one activity as in reading, long hours of computer or phone use, etc.
Eye strain itself is associated with discomfort and pain behind the eyes. When the muscles of the eye are overworked: eyestrain is a major symptom. Often, eye strain comes with headaches that are uncomfortable for people who have them, though these headaches are usually not associated with nausea and vomiting, unlike migraines; and the pain is usually limited to around or behind the eye.
Eye strain headaches often disappear when the eyes are rested, especially after sleep. It may be difficult to separate eye strain headaches from headaches due to other conditions like glaucoma, eye infections, degenerative eye diseases, etc. This is why it is important to carefully observe an eye strain headache and go to the hospital if the headache doesn't go away after you rest your eyes.
1. Focusing on screens for too long: Computer vision syndrome, a group of ocular conditions that consists of eye strain, is caused by prolonged use of digital screens. The vision stress, reduced blinking, and resultant dry eye can cause headaches.
2. Reading for hours without resting your eyes: For students who study long hours, continuous reading without breaks stresses the muscles of the eye and results in eye pain accompanied by headaches.
3. Trying to see in dim lighting: In dim lighting, your pupils dilate so that you can see, so your eyes are more likely to tire out and become fatigued.
4. Exposure to very bright light or glare: Very bright light will put a strain on your eyes. For some people, it can cause double vision and a burning sensation depending on the length of exposure.
5. Driving for long distances or doing activities that require extended focus: Driving a car for a long distance will result in dry eyes: for some drivers, it can result in blurred vision and headaches that can further make these drivers accident-prone.
6. Refractive errors and other eye conditions: If you have a refractive error (short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia), your squinting may put a strain on your eyes and give you a headache.
1. Watery Eyes
2. Blurred Vision
3. Painful or irritated eyes
4. Double Vision
5. Sensitivity to light
7. Neck and shoulder pain
1. Frequent blinking: Blinking from time to time will produce tears that will keep your eyes moist and prevent dry eyes that result in eye strain.
2. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: If you find yourself using a screen: for every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
3. Use good lighting: Avoid too bright lights or too dim lights to enable a good enough contrast for vision. Use natural light in the daytime.
4. Adjust your screen lighting: You can use the eye care setting on your mobile device and set the lighting somewhere in the middle.
5. Take study breaks: When studying, especially for exams, take breaks from time to time. Avoid piling up study material and straining your eyes.
6. Avoid prolonged use of contact lenses: Contact lenses absorb tears, and prolonged use can lead to dry eyes. In addition to the dry eye, the lens can shift from time to time, producing eye strain and headaches.
1. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are used for the management of eye strain headaches.
2. Artificial Tears: Lubricating eye drops, otherwise known as artificial tears, are used to add moisture to the eye and relieve the eyestrain associated with dry eye.
3. Eye Rest: You can cover your eyes with an eye mask or stay in a dark room while you try to catch some shut-eye. If you can't sleep, just closing your eyes for a few minutes will help.
4. Prescription Eyeglasses: If you are long-sighted, short-sighted, astigmatic, or presbyopic, getting your prescription glasses will relieve your pain.
5. Reduce Bright Light: Bright lighting from the sun, television, phones, and computers will worsen your headache. Wear sunglasses or computer glasses to reduce this lighting.
Eyestrain headaches can affect anyone.
When your eyes and head hurt, take a break from whatever activity is keeping you occupied. If you are reading, drop your book and lie down. If you are driving, find somewhere to park and rest your eyes.
Taking away bright lights and phone screens may also help relieve the pain. You can also use an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen(Tylenol) as well as an ice pack for the pain and avoid further eye strain.
Eyestrain headaches can make seeing more difficult, increasing the risk of accidents at school and in the workplace. If the headache does not get better with rest, see your doctor.
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