Asthenopia (eye fatigue)

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Asthenopia describes a number of symptoms resulting in eye strain and/or fatigue, red eyes, blurred vision, pain in or around the eyes, mild or severe headache and rare double vision which generally begins after many hours of close work on the computer or other close work.

Self Help & Tips

Symptoms

The symptoms of asthenopia include light sensitivity, glare sensitivity, headaches, tired, sore eyes, and blurry vision. These symptoms, measured on subjective questionnaires are in usually mild, but worsen if the issues are not addressed.

Causes

Asthenopia has given rise to many occupational safety research. Since 2000, epidemiological studies have revealed many important factors that aggravate eye fatigue. Some of the studies included up to 6,000 people with eye fatigue who reported these causes:

  • poor ergonomics
  • insufficient lighting, and
  • uncorrected vision.

Improvements of the above factors helped only 50% of the patients, suggesting that other causes remained unnoticed, improvements were poorly implemented, or the patient was performing even more close work, which was more challenging. It is unlikely that simply addressing the above three causes is to lessen the incidence asthenopia.

Use of screen or monitor based electronic equipment or toys has become so widespread, and so essential for current work tasks that this has become a serious problem often reported to ophthalmologists, who acknowledged that habitual use of visual displays often leads to more visual fatigue complaints.

Tired Eyes

Treatment

Aside from spending less time on the computer or other device, there has been little progress toward relieving this serious problem other than setting up work stations properly, and getting glasses (or updated glasses) to help lower eyestrain.

However, research in 2017 finds that the viewing distance - how far your eyes are from your electronic device - makes a difference, not only in the amount of eye fatigue, but in how well you sleep at night.

  • Maintain viewing distance: Aim for a minimum of 12" for smartphones. Viewing distance starts out at a moderate length, and then tends to get closer and closer as our eyes get tired.1,
  • Sit up: Users who view smartphones sitting up tend to have a longer (better) viewing distance than those who lie down while viewing. And the shorter viewing distances are associated with poor sleep quality.2
  • Supplement: Taking the macular support carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, mesozeaxanthin) helps reduce the symptoms of eye fatigue, and indirectly, improves sleep quality.3
  • Children: Make sure your kids are not holding their electronic devices too close. Younger users tend to hold mobile devices closer to their eyes than older users do.4

Eye Fatigue News

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Studies

See computer eye strain research
Eye fatigue research

Footnotes

1. J. Long, R. Cheung, et al, Viewing distance and eyestrain symptoms with prolonged viewing of smartphones, Clinical & Experimental Optometry, March, 2017.
2. M. Yoshimura, M. Kitazawa, et al, Smartphone viewing distance and sleep: an experimental study utilizing motion capture technology, Nature and Science of Sleep, March, 2017
3. J. Stringham, N. Stringham, et al, Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure, Foods, June, 2017
4. S. Hasegawa, K. Fujikake, et al, Readability of characters on mobile phone liquid crystal displays, International Journal of Occupation Safety and Ergonomics, 2008