Blog Hero

How Long Does Eye Strain Last?

Book an Appointment
A senior woman pushing her glasses up with her fingers as she rubs her eyes.

The use of technology is in an upwards trend in our modern world—and so is digital eye strain. With many Americans spending more than 2 hours per day on digital devices, many people are developing uncomfortable and irritating eye strain symptoms. While technology isn’t the only cause of eye strain, it is a contributing factor for many people. 

How long does eye strain last before you can feel relief? While eye strain is different for everyone, it can often go away within minutes to hours of an individual ceasing high-focus activities. Specific treatments and strategies can also help reduce the effects of eye strain.

Regular eye exams are one of the first steps you can take to find relief from chronic eye strain. We can work with you to create a treatment plan for eye strain based on your needs, eye health, and lifestyle. 

What Is Eye Strain?

Eye strain often happens when your eyes become sore and fatigued from focusing for a lengthy period, such as when using a computer. When eye strain is related to computer use, it is often referred to as digital eye strain.

When using a computer or engaged in another high-concentration activity, your eyes must focus and refocus, which can cause fatigue, especially when done for extended periods without rest. While technology use is a typical source of eye strain, other activities, such as reading and driving, can also cause symptoms of eye strain. 

Although eye strain does not often cause long-term damage to the eyes, it may trigger several symptoms, including: 

  • Blurry vision 
  • Double vision
  • Red, dry eyes
  • Irritation of the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Back or neck aches 

The Muscle Responsible 

Much like your arm doing a bicep curl, the ciliary muscle, which is part of the focusing system of the eye, is a ring-shaped organ that extends from your iris and directly changes the shape of your lens as you concentrate on a close-up object. 

An overexerted ciliary muscle often correlates to eye strain, but there are many situations and factors that can also contribute to the development of eye strain symptoms. 

What Are the Causes of Eye Strain? 

Eye strain often results from drawn-out or unrestricted use of focusing muscles during activities that put more demand on our vision. It is natural to spend a lot of time engaged in close-up activities every day, but that can be quite uncomfortable for our eyes.

Possible factors that can cause eye strain include our posture when engaging in high-focus activities, such as the use of digital devices or reading, failing to blink as frequently as necessary, and holding digital devices or books too far or too close to our eyes, 

Specific activities and other factors that can cause eye strain include:

  • Reading and writing for long periods of time
  • Driving
  • Digital screen use
  • Reading in dim lighting
  • Stress

How to Prevent Eye Strain

There are some straightforward methods for finding relief from eye strain that can be incorporated into your day-to-day routine, in addition to care and support from your eye doctor.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule

While you’re using a computer or another digital device, every 20 minutes, you should focus your attention away from the activity causing your eye strain. Focus on something that is at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This 20-20-20 rule can be a simple and effective method for reducing the effects of eye strain.

If you work at a computer for a living or find that you spend a lot of time driving, try to balance those activities with others that require different usage of your eyes. Taking a walk outside in natural lighting, for example, can help give your eyes a break. 

Adjust Your Workstation

How far away a screen or book is positioned can affect your eyes. Make sure that your device is at an appropriate distance and location—approximately arm’s length from your eyes and just below eye level. 

Additionally, the lighting required for your eyes to properly focus is important. Poor lighting can be a cause of eye strain. Matching the lighting of your screen to the brightness of the room may help reduce the strain on your eyes. 

Use Eye Drops

The average person blinks around 12 times per minute. However, that number can get dramatically lower when we spend time staring at a digital screen or a book. 

Blinking less frequently can cause your eyes to become dry and agitated. Sometimes, relief can be found by reminding yourself to blink more often, but this is difficult for most people to remember to do. In those situations, eye drops can be a practical solution for relieving dry eyes caused by eye strain.  

A female optometrist examining the eyes of a  man using a medical device to detect potential eye problems.

Eye Strain Relief Is Possible

No one needs to suffer from eye strain, despite our modern, high-focus world. Following habits that support your eye health and using strategies like those above can help reduce the effects of eye strain, but for more persistent symptoms, it can be helpful to seek professional care and advice from an eye doctor.

At Bettner Vision, we’re dedicated to helping our patients see clearly and maintain their eye health. If you’re experiencing chronic symptoms of eye strain, book an appointment with us to get started on the path to relief.

Written by Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

Dr. Christopher Bettner has been serving the optometric needs of Colorado Springs since 1995. He is trained in ocular pathology with an emphasis in the treatment and management of ocular disease, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and pre- and post-operative care.

More Articles By Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

Our Blog

The information you need, when you need it. 

Read our blog for the latest eye care and eyewear news.

Our Address

Bettner Vision is conveniently located in the Marketplace at Briargate, on the corner of North Union Boulevard and Family Place. You can find us beside Sushi Rakkyo and the T-Mobile store.

  • 9205 N Union Blvd. #110
  • Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Contact Information

Hours of Operation

  • Monday: 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday : 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
  • Thursday : 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
  • Friday : 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
  • Saturday: By Appointment
  • Sunday: Closed
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax