Reading and Your Eyes
Jan 24th 2023
It's hard to have too much of a good thing, especially when celebrating reading. National Book Lovers Day is so nice we have to celebrate it twice. Each year, we celebrate our literacy love with National Book Lovers Day on August 9 and November 4. As we approach this exciting holiday, WebEyeCare is here to help you understand the safest ways to celebrate with your favorite books.
• What is eye strain?
• Eye strain myths
• Preventing eye strain
• Relieving a headache behind the eyes
• Contact bifocals and glasses for reading
• Contact bifocals alternatives
What is Eye Strain?
Have you ever felt a headache behind the eyes or blurred vision after focusing your eyes for a long time? Eye strain occurs when your eyes become tired from long periods of intense use, such as reading, driving a car, or working at a computer. Although eye strain isn't a disease and won't impact your vision permanently, it's essential to recognize how eye strain symptoms can impact other areas of your life and how to prevent it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms and effects of eye strain extend beyond your eyes and can be felt in various ways within your body. The signs of eye strain include:
• Burning, sore, or tired feeling eyes
• Eyes that feel itchy
• Watery eyes or dry eyes
• A headache behind the eyes
• Pain or tension in your neck, back, or shoulders
• Sensitivity to light
• Problems concentrating
Eye Strain: Fact or Fiction?
Parents are known to stretch the truth when it comes to trying to keep their children safe. When it comes to eye strain, however, it can be hard to know fact from fiction. Thankfully, the experts at WebEyeCare are here to break down common eye myths as well as provide eye strain facts to help keep your eyes safe and healthy.
True or false? Reading without the proper amount of light can damage your vision. Whether you're trying to read a menu in a dimly lit restaurant or lying in bed working your way through the last chapter of a book that's too good to put down, the idea that you can permanently damage your vision is false. Although reading without adequate light will likely cause eye strain and a headache behind the eyes, there's no evidence you will experience permanent eye damage.
True or false? Sitting too close to the television or holding a book too close can damage the eyes of children. This warning is a popular one from the parents of young children. However, there's no evidence to suggest that sitting too close to the television screen or holding a book closer than usual can impact your vision. Children tend to sit directly in front of the television screen and hold books closer to their faces because, unlike adults, they can focus on the images at a closer distance. Although the practice may seem as though it will cause a headache behind the eyes and eye strain, parents can rest assured that it's normal and doesn't impact children's vision in the long run. If a child doesn't outgrow the habit, they may be experiencing myopia, also known as nearsightedness. To prevent and detect children's eye problems, be sure to schedule regular eye appointments.
True or false? Attempting to read small print can damage your eyes. This myth is one of the most frequently heard when it comes to reading and eye strain. While squinting to try and make out smaller print will most likely cause a headache behind the eyes and eye strain, doctors don't believe you will permanently damage your eyes. However, if the print is average-sized but your eyes struggle to adjust, asking your eye doctor about contact bifocals or bifocal eyeglasses may be the right move.
True or false? Your eyes need to rest from wearing your glasses or contact bifocals, especially after reading for long periods. Although spending a few hours reading may cause your eyes to feel tired, you should always wear your prescription glasses or contact bifocals for reading or distance. If your eye care professional recommended or prescribed a corrective vision tool, failing to utilize them can cause you to experience eye strain, not the other way around.
True or false? Reading on a phone, computer, or tablet for extended periods can cause long-term damage to your vision. As technology becomes more present in our lives, we're thankful to report that long-term vision damage caused by reading on screens is a myth. However, spending hours in front of a computer or other electronic screen can cause eye strain and a headache behind the eyes.
Preventing Eye Strain
We celebrate National Book Month during October and National Book Day the first week of November. While you're enjoying the cooler weather, curling up on the couch, you're your favorite book is a great way to pass the time and celebrate your love of literacy. Now that we've cleared up some of the most common myths about reading and your eyes, we can tackle how you can prevent eye strain while maximizing the amount of time you can spend in a book.
• Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Eye care professionals recommend a ratio of resting and refocusing to help prevent eye strain. Every 20 minutes, rest your eyes by spending 20 seconds looking at a spot in the distance at least 20 feet away. This shift helps your eyes refocus by using different muscles than you use to focus at closer distances.
• Make sure to read in a space with adequate lighting. Whether you're curled up on the couch or hanging out on a park bench, giving your eyes the light they need to read comfortably without squinting or straining can help prevent eye strain and headaches behind the eyes.
• Remind yourself to blink. Believe it or not, our brains can become so wrapped up in reading that we forget to blink. Ensuring your eyes stay moist helps prevent strain. If you already suffer from dry eyes, keep a bottle of eye drops with you to use if needed.
• If possible, switch to glasses when reading as opposed to contact bifocals. Although the manufacturing and hydration quality of contacts has vastly improved, wearing glasses can help keep your eyes more comfortable when focusing for long periods during reading.
• Switch to audiobooks now and then. If you love to read but find yourself dealing with eye strain, headaches behind the eyes, or dry eyes from contact bifocals, choosing an audiobook is a fantastic way to give your eyes a break while still enjoying your favorite book.
• Check the surrounding air quality. Temperature, humidity, and pollution can all cause eye strain and a headache behind the eyes. There are several easy ways to address these air quality conditions. If your heater, air conditioner, or fan blows air in your face, your eyes may be more susceptible to feeling strained. Dry air and pollution such as smoking or exposure to high smog levels can also cause feelings of eye discomfort. Investing in a humidifier, making sure to change the air filter in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, or adding an air purifier to your home or office can help relieve eye pain and prevent you from experiencing a headache behind the eyes.
• Invest in blue light blocking glasses. If you spend a great deal of time on computers or other screens, adding a layer of blue light blocker to your glasses can help relieve eye strain symptoms. You can purchase blue light blocking glasses without a prescription lens or add a layer of blue light blocker to your current prescription frames. Although these lenses won't entirely prevent eye strain on their own, they can be a fantastic resource to use when you pair them with the 20-20-20 rule and our other tips.
• Keep up with your annual eye appointments to ensure your eyes are healthy and well taken care of. Many people believe that eye exams are only necessary if they're experiencing eye diseases or noticing changes in their vision. This assumption can cause eye issues to go untreated and other medical conditions that can be diagnosed or prevented through regular, comprehensive eye exams.
How to Treat Eye Strain Headaches
If you love reading, you've probably experienced a headache caused by eye fatigue. The feeling of a headache behind the eyes can be as painful as a migraine headache but is thankfully much easier to relieve. Let's take a look at what can cause a headache behind the eyes, how to relieve these headaches, and how long your eye strain may last.
As we mentioned earlier, a symptom of eye strain can be felt as a headache behind the eyes. If you're a frequent reader, these headaches put a significant damper on your love of literacy. When your eyes are unable to focus correctly, you may experience eye strain and more headaches behind the eyes. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and your eyes' improper alignment can all contribute to your eye strain. Environmental factors may also impact your likelihood of eye fatigue and pain but are typically relatively easy to remedy. An eye strain headache is different than typical headaches that can cause feelings of nausea or vomiting. Instead, a person typically feels these as a headache behind the eyes, general eye soreness or pain, and a feeling of eye fatigue.
When it comes to preventing or treating headaches caused by eye strain, the first step is to identify the cause of your eye fatigue. For outside influences such as lighting, air quality, dry eyes, or insufficient corrective vision lenses, preventing eye pain is as easy as making adjustments in those areas. Some people experience issues with types of lighting. For instance, the hue of fluorescent bulbs can trigger headaches. Experiment with different bulb styles and brightness to find the level that works best for you. For air quality issues, using a special air purifier or adding a more advanced filter to your HVAC system can help remove pet hair, dander, and dust from the air, as well as cigarettes and cigar smoke and smoke from cooking. If a lack of proper corrective lenses is causing your headaches, ask your eye care provider for suggestions on how to find relief. A prescription for glasses or contact bifocals can help your eyes achieve the correct amount of focus to prevent eye strain and fatigue.
Once you identify and remedy the cause of your eye fatigue, the symptoms should resolve fairly quickly. If you address the presumed causes and don't find relief, it's essential to consult your doctor. Various conditions can produce symptoms that mimic eye strain, including migraine and tension headaches, sleeplessness, and viral conjunctivitis.
Migraine symptoms are incredibly similar to eye strain and include eye pain, headaches, fatigue, sensitivity to light, and irritability. Although eye strain may trigger a migraine headache, a migraine will last longer and typically does not improve with eye rest alone. A tension headache can create a headache behind the eyes and the feeling of pain or pressure in your forehead and the base of your skull. However, unlike eye strain, tension headaches usually improve when treated with over-the-counter pain medicine.
Fatigue and viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, are also known to mimic eye strain symptoms. Although eye strain can cause you to feel tired and experience headaches behind the eyes, being fatigued continuously can lead to similar symptoms. If intense itchiness, a pink discoloration in the whites of your eyes, and the appearance of discharge around your eyes and eyelids accompany your eye pain and soreness, you most likely have viral conjunctivitis. Pink eye is highly contagious and must be treated by a doctor to avoid long-term eye damage.
Contact Bifocals for Reading
Contact bifocals, or bifocal contact lenses, address glasses shipped directly from manufacturers at the lowest prices available. Whether you're searching for designer sunglasses, contact bifocals, or blue light glasses, WebEyeCare has the solutions to keep your eyes looking and feeling their best.