Tired eyes and headaches when looking at the screen?

We don't often realise just how much we rely on the digital screen and what we can do to protect and give comfort to our eyes.
As an Optometrist myself, If you have any symptoms I advise an eye exam first.

Working those muscles hard?


The eye has six muscles around it. These muscles allow the eyes to move in different directions. Up, down, left, right diagonal. There are also tiny muscles in the eye itself, that, work hard when we focus at near range.

The human eye is not really made for focusing at one distance for 8hrs a day. Looking at a fixed distance naturally causes some of the muscles in the eye to become tired.

Imagine standing on one leg for a day. It will be quite tiring for most of us. The same principle applies for the eye muscles focusing at one distance all day.

Naturally when we are looking at something but NOT focusing on what we are looking at, the eyes want to relax.  

  • If you are under 30yrs of age and don't need glasses to see; hold a pen in front of you at 35cm from your nose. Focus on this pen and move it towards your nose. If the pen appears double and you are unable to focus on it as you move it closer to your nose then this leads to eye strain as the muscles that move the eyes in, are weaker. Move the pen away from your nose until you see one pen. Now try focusing on the pen and this time see if you can bring it any closer to the your nose than previous attempt.

This tiredness can cause eye strain and headaches. Naturally once, away from the computer, the eye muscles can usually recover. If you hold your smartphone, tablet or sit too close to your computer screen, this can cause muscle strain for longer. This can result in a computer prescription.

As we get older than 40 (like me) then the muscles naturally become stubborn and don't want to work as much to focus for near vision. This is when we may need reading glasses.

  • Try holding your phone further away and sit further away from the computer screen.
  • Give your eyes a yoga stretch. Hold your head still and look left, right, up, down and then diagonal. Hold each stretch for a few seconds. Do this 2x a day.
  • Try pencil to nose exercises 2x a day for 1 minute (Under 30 and no glasses needed to see)

To tired to even cry?

  • The strain also can be due to dry eyes.

The tears in our eyes are made up of three layers. Mucin, (a thin jelly-like layer), aqueous, (a watery layer) and a lipid layer. These three layers combined protect the eye. The mucin layer mainly comes from the thin transparent conjunctival layer, which partly sits on the white of the eye. This smooth mucin layer allows for even distribution of the aqueous layer on top.

This aqueous layer comes mainly from the lacrimal gland, which is a bit like a water tap on the side of the eye, that releases a thin layer. The lipid layer mainly derives from underneath the eyelids. This layer helps to stabilise the tear film and helps prevent the evaporation of the watery aqueous layer.

Imagine that your eyes have wipers, like in a car. When it rains, the wipers clear the rain, new drops fall, the wiper washes away, ready for the next fall of drops. The eyes work similarly. Each time you blink, new tears form and old ones are washed away. These tears protect the eye.


When we are on focusing on something for a while, be it the computer screen or phone, we blink less. This staring effect leads to dry patches on the eye. The dry patches on the eye make the eyes uncomfortable. This results in dry eyes. There are dry eye drops available over the counter to help give relief, but before going for eye drops, it is a good idea to try the

  • 20:20:20 rule.
  • Blink more on purpose.

20:20:20 Rule

Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for around 20 seconds. This gives the eye muscles a break from looking at one distance regularly and gives the muscles a chance to have a stretch. The tear film can rebalance as the eye is not focusing at one distance. This will be helped further by simply blinking more. (Remember the wipers in the car.)

Too much light?

Having a window behind your screen or in front can create unwanted glare.
Try moving the screen parallel to your window. (Window should be on the side from the screen.)

Blue Light Filter

What is Blue light?

Blue light is part of the spectrum that sits between UV and visible light. Some of these harmful rays can affect the back of the eye as well as general sleep and wake - cycles. This results in eye strain, eye fatigue and unwanted changes in the back of the eye. When spending vast amount of time in front a screen, the blue light emitted from the screen can create eye strain as well as fatigue.


Whether you have a prescription prescribed by your Optometrist or not, blue blocking filter that screens out harmful blue-violet light may help. These blue filter lenses allow only beneficial light to pass and reduces stress on the eye caused by constant refocusing.

The lenses also come with anti static, scratch resistance, anti-reflection and super hydrophobic coating; making them great to wear all the time too if you need a prescription for general use.


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