What Is Eye Strain, or Asthenopia? Why Do My Eyes Feel Tired?
Ohh the dreaded feeling! Eye strain is something that many of us have dealt with, and it's also something we all wish to avoid. Eye strain, otherwise known as asthenopia in the optometry world, can be very nonspecific and is often different for everyone.
So, why do your eyes feel tired after a long day? There are many causes of eye fatigue, but a huge culprit is the technology we're surrounded with daily. Working on a computer or even on your cellphone throughout the day can make your eyes much more tired. This occurs because, when you go to look at something small and close to you, the ciliary muscle inside your eye contracts and changes the focusing system of your eye to allow you to view up close. This small muscle is so important because it controls your ability to focus far away, up close, and at all distances in between!
The longer this muscle has to work, the more eye strain you may feel (the ciliary muscle gets tired just like your other muscles do after a weightlifting session!) Also, working on a computer that emits blue light means that the contrast of what you're viewing is decreased, making it tougher to see clearly.
Other reasons for eye strain can include reading or analyzing small print for extended periods, needing a new glasses prescription, problems with your eye muscles and binocular vision, and even driving at night.
Eye Strain Symptoms
Like I stated previously, eye strain is an annoying condition which often plagues us with vague symptoms. For those who have experienced it, you know this is true!
When someone complains of eye strain, they may complain of blurred vision, pain in or around the eyes, dry eyes, headaches, general fatigue, and even double vision.
When you're trying to work or get things done, eye strain can be a bear to deal with. It can make you feel like you just want to close your eyes and take a nap. Have you been there?
In this day and age with all of the computer and cellphone technology around us, it's safe to say that most of us have experienced eye strain to some degree.
How Long Does Eye Strain Last?
As long as you're continually forcing the ciliary muscle to contract, you're going to experience eye strain to some degree. Just like your muscles are tired and sore after a good workout, your eye muscles will be the same after a long day at work.
Also, the longer you work in a dark environment, whether you're driving or just working in a dark room in front of a computer screen, you're forcing your eyes to work harder to sustain crisp vision.
The dangers of blue light from the cell phones and computers we stare at all day long are starting to come to the surface, and avoiding this prolonged exposure to blue light will ensure that your eyes are staying healthy and avoiding the fatigue and other ocular problems that can come along with it.
How To Relieve Eye Strain | Eye Strain Treatment and Relief
There are quite a few great ways to relieve eye strain. First of all, you need to give your visual system a break throughout your work day or while working on small-print or needlepoint tasks.
We love to employ the 20-20-20 Rule. This is how it works...every 20 minutes, look up from your computer (or cell phone, needlepoint project, etc) and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Set a timer! This is the best way to ensure that you're giving that ciliary muscle a rest every once in awhile.
Tip number two would be to have an eye exam! If you haven't had one recently, you may simply need a new pair of glasses with your new prescription, or you may be having issues with your eye muscles not working together. Both can be diagnosed and treated at your optometrist's office.
Next, adjust the lighting in your work space. Like stated earlier, dark work environments make your eyes work harder, which isn't what you want. Make sure your lighting is good!
Lastly, grab yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses (or have blue light technology put into your prescription lenses). This technology helps prevent too much blue light from entering your eyes and can help relieve symptoms of eye fatigue while you work throughout the day. They can also help you sleep better, so that's a welcome bonus!
Computer Eye Strain Glasses | Blue Light Blocking Glasses
If you're in the market for a great way to decrease eye strain while you're working, look into a pair of blue light blocking glasses. The slightly yellow lenses help to absorb blue light from your computer and smartphone screens and protect your eyes from the damaging effects of blue light.
Blue light not only causes eye fatigue and makes it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, but studies are also starting to show that excessive exposure can put you at risk for macular degeneration.
To prevent this, we recommend wearing blue light blocking glasses throughout your work day while you're on the computer or your cellphone. These also transition to sunglasses when outdoors, so you really don't need to take them off.
Protecting your eyes is so important...you only get two of them!
Can I wear contact lenses after a long period of intolerance?
I think it really depends on why you had an intolerance in the first place. So was it that your eyes were really dry or they've been really dry and that's what caused you to not be able to wear your contact lenses? Or was it that you had an infection or something like that, and that just needed to be cleared up? Those are going to be very different things, so if you had an infection and it's something that needed to be cleared up and it now is then absolutely you can try to wear your contact lenses again.
Even with dry eye syndrome, sometimes people are able to wear contact lenses and other people aren't at all once dry eye sets in. So it's something that you can always try and it's individual. It's different for everybody. Just go slow with it for dry eye patients!
We always recommend a daily disposable lens, so that's the lens that you throw away every single day. You get a new fresh pair every day and it makes sure that your eyes are not only comfortable but clean and free of bacteria.
Are there blue blockers that transition to full or darker sunglasses?
The ones we have don't transition enough for us outside. So she's talking about our blue blockers that do have transitions. Those aren't made to replace your sunglasses. They're never going to be as dark as normal sunglasses, and that's just the nature of a Transition lens or photochromic lens. Even if you get one at your doctor's office, they're still not going to get super dark because they're UV activated. So if it's a cloudier day or there's not a lot of UV light, it's not going to get as dark. If you're in a car behind a windshield, our windows and our cars have UV protection, therefore it's not going to get dark behind your windshield and in your car.
So with Transitions, unfortunately, the technology is not great but it's always getting better. I think they're looking into new technology that might come out within the next five to ten years. This is a pair you can actually turn on and off yourself. And so literally it's an electronic pair, you just press a button, and it turns to completely dark sunglasses and then it turns back to clear just with the switch of a button. That is pretty cool!
Also, there are actually contact lenses coming out that are Transitions as well, but you're going to have the same issues that you do with your sunglasses, and sunglass contact lenses are creepy. Just our opinion!
After having cataract surgery, can I roll q-tips over my eyes and press to get the oils out?
Not on your eyes! I'm guessing you mean on your eyelids, and you close your eyelids and you roll the q-tip down your eyelid to get those oils moving and that's perfectly fine. As long as you have completely healed from your cataract surgery, that should be no problem. You shouldn't be pressing so hard, anyway, to where it's going to be painful or it's going to cause any damage. It's really just a gentle pressure that you want, and that should be completely fine.
What you're probably worried about when you're pressing on your eyelids is increasing the pressure inside your eye. After cataract surgery, your pressure actually drops quite a bit. And so you won't add that much pressure and you're not going to cause any damage to your eyes.
Doing things like yoga, for example, or flipping upside down can increase the pressure in your eye more than you pressing on it does.
I know you said dark lighting makes your eyes work harder, but the fluorescent lighting in my classroom really bothers my eyes and contributes to severe redness. I switched to using all the lamps with day lighting. Is this okay or I'm actually causing more harm?
Day lighting is a lot of blue light and it can be a little harsh on the eyes. In my opinion, a warm, yellow light is going to be a little better for you during the day than a day lighting lamp is. If you have windows, keep those open. We don't like fluorescent lights either. So yes, fluorescent lights are the absolute worst, so as long as you're switching from those to something a little bit better and if it is dimmer that's fine. We're more talking about if you're working in the dark on the computer or you have a little tiny reading light next to you or something like that. We're not talking about if you've got actual lighting and you know it's good lighting. The day lighting should be perfectly fine.
Do prescription sunglasses have blue light blocking in there? Do I have to request that?
Most sunglasses are blue light blocking just because of the color of them. So a Transition lens is even going to have more blue light blocking. Sunglasses do have blue light blocking, but you can get an extra coating on there to block it as well. And so, that's actually something we're looking into with our company is a pair of sunglasses that have blue light blocking in it (of course, not prescription). You can always ask the optician that you're working with just to make sure that the lens that you're getting does block blue light.
Is there a reason that dry eye is worse after waking up? My eyes have a glaze over them in the morning and seem to be more inflamed in the mornings. Does this seem like allergies?
Usually this is caused from either not sleeping with your eyes fully closed, you're dehydrated, or you're just lying with a fan next to or over you or have vents blowing and it just may be how you sleep. Fixing those things will help.
If your eyes partially open, using a gel or an ointment at nighttime is going to really help with that. Some people tape their eyes shut with medical tape... that helps them too. Make sure that if you use a fan or you have vents, turn them away from you. If you're using a fan for noise, get a white noise machine that's a lot easier and it doesn't blow any wind. Jenna and I constantly have this battle, especially when we lived in South Carolina. It was so hot and I couldn't use a fan because it would bother her eyes. So we got a BedJet, which is the best thing. This is a fan inside your bed and you can point it directly on the person that needs the fan and not the other person. So it's the greatest! Just buy a BedJet if you have that issue with your spouse.
Hydration is key to dry eye, period! It's the first thing that we always teach. Drink more water! You should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces per day so, for example, I weigh 180 pounds and should drink 90 ounces of water per day.
I had cataract surgery in 2012. I cannot read without bright light or holding a small flashlight. On the reading matter - is that eye strain or a different issue with the ReSTOR lens implant?
It's all about expectations, and a lot of doctors don't set those expectations for their patients. With the ReSTOR lens implant, I always tell my patients that it's going to work for 70% of what you want to do on a day to day basis. So when you're driving and you need to look at your speedometer, you're going to be able to see that. And if you're looking at your cell phone and you're just glancing at it, that's what the ReSTOR lens is for. What I recommend is, if you're going to sit down to read a book for a long period of time, or sit on your computer, even though the ReSTOR lens implant has reading prescription in it it's still not as good as if you just grabbed a very low power pair readers like our +1.25's and wear those while you're on your phone or reading for a long period of time.
The ReSTOR lens is great for everyday use. 70% of what you want to do will be great, and for 20-30%, you'll still need reading glasses. And I will add that in general as we all get older, we do need more light to see, especially up close and small print. A light that is really good if you're looking for one is an OttLite if you've never heard of it look it up! It is O-T-T-L-I-T-E and they're great lights especially for reading and things like that. If you're going to sit in a chair and read, they're really great for that. They give you a lot of good lighting.
Are night time eye masks beneficial for dry eye?
They can be! A lot of people do use night time eye masks when they sleep because they find that it can help keep some of the moisture in. It keeps those eyelids closed like we talked about a little bit earlier. Dry eyes are worse in the morning because some people sleep with their eyelids open, and that really dries out the front surface of your eyes. So some people do find that wearing a sleeping mask helps to keep those eyelids closed a little bit better and keeps that moisture in. So it is something that you might want to try!
My eyes start to act up when I'm upset. Stress triggers the itch which leads me to believe it's not the environment and/or aging that causes this.
So pretty much the question is “Can stress cause dry eyes?”. I fully believe that stress can cause anything in your body and absolutely dry eyes. It, of course, goes along with dry eyes. Is it actually the cause? Well, it's never been shown to actually be the cause of dry eyes but it absolutely goes hand-in-hand with dry eyes. If you're stressed out your eyes are not going to be able to function the way that they should. Is it a cause? I don't know! Maybe yes, maybe not, but it's definitely something that you need to get under control.
The best things that you can do for stress are things like keeping gratitude journals, yoga, meditation and similar things. Do one of those-pick what you love- and try to get that stress down!
If you have contact irritation that has developed over time due to poor contact care is that more of a corneal trauma and does this eventually heal? What can you do if you feel some irritation on the front surface of your eye? By the way I love your products!
Great to hear about the products! Let's talk about your contact lens care. With the contact lenses, if you abuse them for too long, and we can see the abuse that is usually a permanent scarring situation, that means you've probably had some past infections that have developed so bad that they cause scarring to occur. If you can still see, you're lucky because if that scarring occurs in the middle of your cornea,, it will cause you to go blind permanently.
I've had 5 patients go blind because they didn't listen to my care instructions, so it's something that if you don't take care of your contacts, yes it can be permanent. I don't know in your situation... I'd have to look at the front of your eyes... but if you abuse them and sleep in them, that's the biggest culprit for irritation and problems. You are putting a piece of plastic on your eye. It is depriving your eye of oxygen. Your eye gets oxygen from the air out here, and you're putting a piece of plastic on it and then you're sleeping. By putting a closed eyelid on it, you're depriving your corneas of oxygen even further. When they're deprived of oxygen, they call out for help in the form of an infiltrate or an ulcer. When that happens, it can scar and if that scarring occurs in the front of your eye, right in the middle, it will cause you to look through a blurry scar at all times. Then, you'll have to have a corneal transplant to be able to see. I don't say that to scare you, but I do because we've seen nasty infections from contact lenses. We've seen people go blind from them, and you do not want to abuse your contact lenses in any way.
That's why we fit probably 50% Dailies in our practice and we took the practice from no Dailies at all and we took it over to 50% by the time we ended up selling it. There are multiple patients that I've seen that I have threatened to or taken away their contact lenses and they have to go elsewhere to get them because I will not prescribe them for somebody that has tons of scarring on the front of their eyes. If I know you're sleeping in your lenses for a year at a time, then I will not prescribe them for you and that's just how it is. They go to another doctor and it's awful and it's a bad cycle. We don't like that behavior and we don't like those hygienic standards. We don't want to be responsible for your blindness.
I love your lid cleanser - seems to be helping me. My goal is to get off Restasis!
Awesome! That's our goal, too, is you go off Restasis. So hydration, green smoothies, exercise, stress relief with gratitude journals, get your sleep in order. But hydration and green smoothies, those are our two favorite things to get you started. Green smoothies for breakfast and hydration, hydration, hydration!
Has anyone tried Omega-7 Sea Buckthorn capsules and did you find any relief at all?
What we're trying to do with omega 3 6 7 9 is balance out the omegas in your body. So you want a ratio, especially of omega-6 to omega-3, that should be about 4 to 1 and omega-7s are great to add in there. What you're trying to do is just make sure you're getting a healthy balance of everything, so absolutely Omega-7s are used in dry eye and they're wonderful for dry eye so I see no issue in using them. Go ahead and try it!
So the key thing is, eating healthier fats and not crappy fats. It's replacing all of the processed crap in your diet with healthy fats. Stop using margarine and replace it with coconut oil. This can really help you balance that ratio and get that ratio to where it needs to be so that your eyes are feeling good.
What are your thoughts of cod liver oil versus regular fish oil?
Again healthy fats! Just eat healthy fats. I always see this in the community and it kind of drives me nuts. Which omega-3 is the best? And the answer is they're all great if you get it from a reputable company, ours of course Heyedrate Omega-3 for Dry Eye, we'd love for you all to be on that one. The other ones are HydroEye and Nordic Naturals. The only we don't recommend is TheraTears because I don't like how cheap theirs is. When you get to a cheaper omega-3 that usually is a sign that they do something to make it that inexpensive because TheraTears is actually sold for less than we get ours at cost on our omega-3.
Find one, stick with one, and just take that one! Stop thinking that the next one's going to be the magic bullet because an omega-3 supplement is not the magic bullet. It's just a supplement to add to your regimen. And so the regimen includes our Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser, which what we've talked about before on this podcast, high hydration and green smoothies and eating a healthier diet. Getting rid of cakes and candies and sugars and pops and getting rid of processed foods. I mean we could go on for days and days and days that's pretty much what our eight-week boot camp challenge is is us teaching you day by day how to eliminate things, how to add things and how to change your lifestyle in order to get you healthier. You have dry eye because of something you've been doing over years.
Thinking that a 30-day supply of an omega-3 is going to fix that when you've been having this build-up for 5 to 10 to 20 years... it's not going to happen. Even our lid cleanser is great, but people expect relief on the first spray and it's not going to happen because this built-up over time and you can't heal your body in one day. It takes time and it takes every decision you make on a day to day basis will determine how you feel later.
I went to visit my daughter in Connecticut and her well water has lots of iron. My eyelids become red and puffy. Solution?
Unfortunately if you're allergic to something in the water it's very hard get away from it. You could use distilled water from a gallon jug to wash your face. I was thinking trying to use filtered water if you're still there and if you're not there then it's going to clear up as you get away from that. You can use filtered water to wash your face for maybe a week or so and that should help and also use the Lid and Lash Cleanser ...that's going to help as well.
Are you coming out with a greens powder?
We have it scheduled for Quarter 1 or 2 of 2019. We first have a Lutein and Zeaxanthin supplement that will be coming out. It's a simpler version of our Ocular Health Formula. It's going to be our Ocular Health Formula without all the extra ingredients and vitamins, and so it's just going to be stripped down to lutein and zeaxanthin. For those who want to take that, it's good for a healthy retina and a healthy eye overall. Those are carotenoids that just help sweep out free radicals from your body and its really focused in your eye area and so it really helps your eye health overall. So that will be coming out soon and it's going to be a lot less expensive than our current Ocular Health Formula because it is more stripped-down and it just has two ingredients and not all the other vitamins and minerals.
But as far as the greens powder, I would say probably beginning of the year somewhere in the first quarter. We're excited about the greens powder and we've been testing it out. It has what we just talked about, lutein and zeaxanthin, and also has omegas 3 6 & 9. It's got a bunch of organic greens and organic mushrooms and other great stuff too.
I have a 15 yr old niece that has been told she has too much oil in her eyes. She wears contacts and her doctor put her on doxycycline but she continues to struggle.
It sounds like she's got excess oil and it's binding to her contacts which is causing a lot of blurry vision. I would have her take an omega-3 and have her watch her diet. See what kind of fats she's actually eating because poor fats going in the body is going to create poor fats coming out of the body on the eyelid which is then going to bind to the contact lenses. Also, depending on what contact lens brand she's in, you might want to switch her to an older brand we use when we have this problem. She could be switched to Acuvue One Day Moist and that's a daily lens that she throws away every day. Those tend not to bind oil as much and so that should help solve her problem.
So bad fats away and taking omega-3 which should replace the doxy. She pretty much has meibomian gland dysfunction, which is why the doctor put her on doxy.
I always feel like I have poison ivy in my eyes because they're so itchy and red. It's the eyelids that are mostly causing the issue, and I just wants to rub them all the time. I've been on antibiotics, Prednisone, and just about every other dry eye thing that you can think of.
This sounds like you are definitely allergic to something that you're using. Whether it's a lotion or an ingredient in one of your eye drops, this can cause your lids to react the way you're saying. You were on Prednisone and that helped, and that tells me that it is some type of allergy. I had a patient like this one time where I prescribed her a couple different rounds of oral steroids for eyelids that were just super inflamed. It would go away and then it would come back and I eventually sent her to a dermatologist, so that might be something to consider. They know more about skin than we do, but my guess is it's something that you're using on your face or on your eyelids or even in your eyes that's causing your eyes to react like that.
I would try to get off some of the stuff that you're using. Some of the moisturizer or maybe the ointment... kind of strip it away and then bring it back. Maybe even one at a time and see if something's causing that reaction. There are a lot of problems when we see something like this and you've tried everything and you use a lot we do what's called a medication vacation and it's just where we pretty much take you off everything and see what happens. And then if you need something then we'll start over again because sometimes, as doctors, we just keep throwing stuff at it until it becomes too much.
Natural remedies is what we talk about as well, so if you haven't tried our Heyedrate that might be another option for you to try after you strip all this off. So you can get your first bottle free at www.freeheyedrate.com and you only pay shipping to get it to you.
Other than Omegas what should people take who have dry eye?
We recommend doing our Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser twice a day and using our Tea Tree Oil Bar Soap in the shower and to wash your face with. We also recommend our omega-3. Make sure your diet is extremely healthy. We recommend an avocado a day or at least half an avocado a day, putting it into a smoothie is great because those are very very healthy fats and it's just going to change your whole body. It's going to change your skin, your hair and pretty much everything. Then hydration... by drinking tons of water. You should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. We say this all the time because it is important. So if I weigh 120 pounds I should be drinking at least 60 ounces a day. So you get the point... you need to be drinking a lot of water!