Another Headache. Do I Need Glasses?

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Maybe you’re curled up with the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns or sitting at your computer reading what seems like a thousand not-so-splendid emails — and here comes a headache. Again. Could it be eye strain that’s causing the headaches you’ve been getting lately? Do you need eyeglasses?

Eye strain, or asthenopia, is when the eyes get tired from excessive or intense use. Sometimes you also get a headache, but rarely is eyestrain itself the sole cause of headaches.

Causes of Eye Strain

The most common reason for strained eyes is Computer Vision Syndrome, caused by using a screen for a long time. Staring at your computer, cell phone, digital device, television or video game is harder on your eyes than reading text printed on paper or doing crafts. 

One reason is because we blink less when reading a screen! According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, humans normally blink about 15 times a minute, but we blink half to a third that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play.

Other causes of eye strain can include one or more of these:

  • The need for eye glasses or a change in your prescription 
  • Dry environment
  • Being in low-light situations
  • Watching a 3-D movie

Solutions and Treatments

Consider these methods to ease and perhaps reduce the occurrence of headaches:

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  • Get an eye exam to see if there’s an underlying cause to your eye strain and headaches. Perhaps corrected vision is in order, such as reading glasses or contact lenses. 
  • If the computer screen looks better through the “reading” section of your bifocal lens, consider having a pair of glasses made with this strength for the entire lens.
  • Rest. Eye strain tends to disappear with rest, so for 30 seconds, close your eyes or look around the room.
  • Blink often, to refresh and replenish your eyes. 
  • Change computer habits. Sit about 25 inches, or an arm's length, from the computer screen. Position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward. Try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain. Fix your chair height so your feet can rest comfortably on the floor. Don’t slump over the computer screen.
  • Make sure you have proper room lighting for any activity where you strain your eyes.
  • If you’re in a dry environment, try using a humidifier.


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