Eyestrain: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    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.

Eyestrain (or eye strain) describes a condition in which eye symptoms occur as a result of extended use of the eyes. Eye discomfort, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches are common symptoms of eyestrain. Eyestrain is not a disease but a symptom that occurs when the eyes are used for a long period of time. The medical term for eyestrain is asthenopia. In people who suffer from eyestrain, a lack of sleep, certain medications, physical or emotional stress, or being tired can make the symptoms worse.

Causes of eyestrain

Eyestrain occurs after extended or prolonged use of the eyes. Reading, computer work, or looking at digital screens, straining to see in dim light, and driving long distances are examples of activities that can result in eyestrain. Refractive errors (vision problems caused by a need to wear glasses) can also cause the symptoms of eyestrain.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/9/2017

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