Tired Eyes – What You Need to Know?

A man rubbing his tired eyes

All of us have had tired eyes once in a while, some of us more often than that. In today’s day and age of digitization, with both work and recreation depending on staring at a bright screen, fatigue of the eyes is a complaint more common than ever before. Fatigue or tiredness of the eyes can lower your productivity, and make you generally feel unhealthy. Tired eyes, or eye strain, is not a disease per se, and usually does not require treatment. Tired eyes, which are sore and irritated, are often a sign of an underlying weakness of eyes, or of intense use.

This article will deal with the most common causes, and also the remedies for tired eyes.

What causes tiredness of eyes?

Any activity that requires intense eye use, without rest, can cause fatigue of the eyes. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Staring at any screen device, be it a computer, smartphone, or game console, for extended periods: Your eyes have to work harder to focus on small words, held close to the face, and this condition is called Computer Vision Syndrome.
  • Decreased rate of blinking: The standard blink rate is about 12 to 18 times a minute, but drops when reading, or focusing on a screen, to less than half its average It results in dry, tired, scratchy, red and burning eyes.
  • Poor lighting: This increases the strain on the eyes, as they have to work harder to focus on the weak ambient light.
  • Not enough sleep: Sleep results in a necessary, enforced rest which helps the eyes muscles relax. Lack of sleep results in tired, red and sore eyes.
  • Uncorrected refractive error: If you have a refractive error and require glasses, either for near or distance, your eyes have to work much harder to enable you to see clearly. It increases the eye strain and may result in headaches, in addition to eye fatigue.

What are the associated symptoms?

The common signs and symptoms of eyestrain are as common as eye fatigue itself. These include:

  • Sore and red eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision, and trouble focusing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Feeling of heaviness in eyes

How do I prevent tiredness of eyes?

Some standard tips that can reduce eyestrain are discussed below. In case, the soreness and fatigue are not alleviated despite this; the eye strain may be a symptom of an underlying medical cause which will require an eye doctor’s attention and additional treatment.

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Make sure the ambient lighting is optimal. A high amount of contrast strains your eyes, so the room should be well lit when you’re reading, watching TV, or working on the computer.
  • Take regular short breaks when doing any near work that needs you to focus for a longer duration than usual.
  • Make sure that your glasses or contact lens prescription is proper; an annual eye exam usually ensures this.
  • Remember to blink when working on a screen device.

How do I treat tired eyes?

Regardless of how well you take care of your eyes, you will, someday or the other, feel an eye strain. Occasional eye fatigue can be managed without having to visit the eye doctor, but if it persists, then you must schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist.

“First aid” for eye strain and tired eyes include:

  • Closing your eyes for at least five minutes to allow them some rest
  • Going off to sleep
  • Using artificial tears (preservative free) to lubricate them
  • Removing contact lenses

Are there any particular tips for contact lens users?

Contact lenses are notorious for causing and exacerbating dryness of eyes, which usually presents as sore, tired and red eyes. It is especially true for computer users and those who read a lot. In such a situation, some tips that may help include:

  • Remove your contact lenses
  • Discontinue the use of contact lenses for some time, and rely on your prescription glasses instead to give your eyes a break.
  • Never sleep with your contact lenses in the eye, even if they are extended wear lenses.
  • Practice proper contact lens hygiene when wearing or taking them off, and when storing or cleaning them.
  • If your eyes are red, or watery, or they become sensitive to light or painful, with or without blurring of vision, you must see an ophthalmologist at the earliest.

When should I seek medical help?

Usually tired eyes respond well to the above-mentioned interventions. It could signify a medical cause of the ocular fatigue and pain.

  • In case your eyes continue to be tired despite your best efforts
  • Associated blurred vision (could be indicative of an uncorrected refractive error, that is, need for glasses)
  • Itching, redness, and soreness that persists (could be suggestive of dry eye syndrome or eye allergies)
  • Persistent headaches
  • Any double vision or diplopia
  • Inability to open eyes in bright light, or intolerance to bright light
  • Excessive watering of eyes, or yellow-green discharge from the eyes
  • Pain when blinking

In case you wear contact lenses, you should seek medical attention sooner, rather than later.