Home remedies for eyestrain and discomfort

Aug 19, 2019 | | Say something

Visual fatigue occurs when your eyes get tired of heavy use, such as driving long distances or looking at computer screens and other digital devices.

Visual fatigue has no serious or long-term consequences, but it can be aggravating and unpleasant. It can tire you and reduce your ability to concentrate. It usually goes away once you rest your eyes or take other measures to reduce eye discomfort. But in some cases, the signs and symptoms of visual fatigue may indicate an underlying eye condition that needs treatment.

Signs and symptoms of visual fatigue include:

  • Eye pain, tiredness, burning or itching.
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain.
  • Greater sensitivity to light.
  • Difficult to focus
  • Feel you can't keep your eyes open

Common causes of eyestrain include:

  • Looking at the screens of digital devices
  • Read without stopping to rest your eyes
  • Drive long distances and perform other activities that involve an extended approach
  • Being exposed to bright light or glare
  • Effort to see with very dim light
  • Having an underlying eye problem, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error)
  • Being stressed or fatigued
  • Being exposed to the dry moving air of a fan, heating system or air conditioning

Consider these lifestyle tips and home remedies to reduce or prevent eyestrain:

  • Adjust the lighting. When you watch TV, it may be easier for your eyes if you keep the room in low light. When reading printed materials or doing a nearby job, try placing the light source behind you and directing the light towards your page or task. If you are reading at a desk, use a shaded light placed in front of you. The shadow will prevent the light from shining directly in your eyes.
  • Take breaks When working nearby, take occasional breaks and rest looking away from the digital screen.
  • Limit screen time. This is especially important for children, who may not establish the connection between prolonged vision, eyestrain and the need to rest their eyes regularly.
  • Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel good to keep them well lubricated and prevent recurrence of symptoms. Your healthcare provider may suggest which eye drops might be best for you. Lubricant drops that do not contain preservatives can be used as often as you need. If the drops you use contain preservatives, do not use them more than four times a day. Avoid eye drops with a redness remover, as they can make dry eye symptoms worse.
  • Improve the air quality of your space. Some changes that can help prevent dry eyes include the use of a humidifier, adjust the thermostat to reduce the air that blows and avoid smoke. If you smoke, consider quitting smoking. Moving your chair to a different area can help reduce the amount of dry air moving in your eyes and face.
  • Choose the right glasses for you. If you need glasses or contact lenses and work on a computer, consider investing in glasses or contact lenses designed specifically for working with computers. Ask your optometrist about lens coatings and dyes that may also help.
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Some symptoms of visual fatigue can be relieved with natural products, such as cranberry extract and omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, but more studies are needed. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are considering supplements to help relieve your signs and symptoms.


Computer use is a common cause of eyestrain. If you work at a desk and use a computer, these self-care steps can help relieve tension in your eyes.

  • Blink often to refresh your eyes. Many people blink less than normal when working on a computer, which can contribute to dry eyes. The blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh your eyes. Try to get used to blinking more often when looking at a monitor.
  • Take breaks for the eyes. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break looking away from your monitor. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  • Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright lighting and excessive glare can damage the eyes and make it difficult to see objects on the monitor. The worst problems usually come from sources located above or behind you, including fluorescent light and sunlight. Consider turning off some or all of the ceiling lights. If you need light to write or read, use an adjustable desk lamp. Close the blinds or blinds, and avoid placing your monitor directly in front of a white window or wall. Place a glare cover on the screen.
  • Adjust your monitor. Place your monitor directly in front of you, one arm away, so that the top of the screen is at eye level or just below it. It is useful to have a chair that can be adjusted as well.
  • Use a document holder. If you need to check print material while working on your computer, place it in a document holder. Some stands are designed to be placed between the keyboard and the monitor; others stand aside. Find one that works for you. The goal is to reduce how much you need to readjust your eyes and how often you turn your neck and head.
  • Adjust your screen settings. Expand the type for easy reading. And adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that is comfortable for you.
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This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more medical and health information at mayoclinic.org.

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