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Welcome, medical contents search April 26, 2013
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more about Eyestrain


  • A vaguely uncomfortable feeling in the eyes (which is not necessarily painful) or an unpleasant, low-grade aching feeling in the general vicinity of the eyes

  • A vague feeling of visual discomfort, blurred vision, headaches, or aching in the eye muscles, especially after performing close-work (such as reading) for a prolonged period of time.
  • Close-work would be any task in which the patient is focusing intently on items within an arm's length of the eyes.
  • Sometimes these symptoms develop when using the eyes intently to focus on details far away (but for hours at a time), such as watching a movie screen.

  • The major cause is a large phoria.  This means that the eye muscles that move each eyeball are not perfectly aligned, at all times.  Under special conditions, one eyeball will drift right, left, up, or down.  This creates 2 images for the brain, instead of 1 fused image.  This provokes an uncomfortable feeling or aching feeling.
  • Most people have a minimal phoria, not a large phoria.
  • With prolonged close-work or prolonged concentration on visual tasks, something in the brain might interfere with our ability to join the images from the 2 separate eyes into one single image.  If the person has a large phoria, this is very annoying, and provokes eyestrain.
  • Other causes may be astigmatism (an irregularly-shaped cornea), near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or amblyopia.  Amblyopia is decreased vision in 1 or both eyes, not correctible with glasses or corrective lenses, and not due to any defect in the retina or eyeball.
  • Unknown causes
  • Eyestrain may have multiple causes in the same person (a combination of the causes mentioned).

  • There is no clear-cut way to diagnose eyestrain; it is a diagnosis of exclusion after other causes of blurred vision, aching in the eye muscles, etc., are largely eliminated.
  • A phoria is diagnosed by ophthalmology tests that provoke one eyeball to drift right, left, up, or down, even though both eyes are aimed straight ahead under normal conditions.  Two of these tests are a red glass test and a cover-uncover test.
  • If one eyeball drifts under normal conditions, so that the mal-alignment is visible at all times, this is called a tropia.

  • Overly-tired individuals
  • Hot, humid environment with lack of circulating air
  • Ill individuals performing tasks that require great concentration
  • A child whose phoria has one eyeball pointing higher than the other is more likely to have eyestrain than children with other phorias (i.e., the worst situation is when one eyeball points straight ahead toward the line of print in a book, and the other eyeball points above the line of print in a book, when the child is overly-tired).

  • Rest (after performing visual tasks that require prolonged concentration) will stop eyestrain temporarily.
  • Pain medication, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • Corrective lenses if the person is very troubled by the symptoms
  • In rare cases, eye muscle surgery

  • None known

  • Discuss the symptoms with your physician if your child has any eye complaints or headaches after prolonged close work, prolonged reading, or prolonged TV/movie watching.  First, a red glass test or cover-uncover test might be done, and then your physician might recommend a visit to an eye-care professional, such as an ophthalmologist (a physician who is an eye specialist).

  • Tension headaches
  • Muscle-contraction headaches (headaches due to constant contraction of facial muscles or muscles in the temples)

more about Eyestrain

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