Eye Strain

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are the symptoms of eye strain?

If one asks patients who complain of eye strain to define what they mean by that term, they may describe nonspecific soreness of the eyes, mild tearing or dryness, blurring of vision, soreness of the back of the neck, doubling of vision, light sensitivity, difficulty focusing on images, tightness of the temples or back of the head, or combinations of all of these. Headache is the most common symptom. It is usually mild, located in both temples, not pounding, and often relieved by stopping the visual task.

What are the signs of eye strain?

The diagnosis of eye strain is made by a physician on the basis of the history as described by the patient and the absence of any serious eye disease. There are no specific tests to prove that the symptoms are indeed due to eye strain. There are no methods to objectively measure the degree of eye strain.

You should see an ophthalmologist if you have ongoing pain in the eye, visual loss, redness, or irritation of the eyes. These symptoms cannot be explained by eye strain. In general, if your eye strain is not relieved by resting your eyes, an eye examination should be performed. If you are examined by your ophthalmologist for your symptoms of eye strain, he or she will do an examination, including checking to see if you need glasses. If the doctor feels glasses may make your eyes more comfortable, these will be prescribed.

Symptoms of eye strain are unusual in children under 12 years of age. If your child complains of headaches after reading, eye fatigue, blurring of vision, or double vision, a visit to an ophthalmologist is warranted to rule out any underlying eye condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015
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