Eye pain/strain only when looking at screens?

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I'm 19 and have been very active on computers and other screens for many years and never had any problems. I have glasses for 10 years with no problems. I got my prescription updated over a year ago and had no problems, as usual, until about 5 months ago. One night while on the computer I started to feel a little strain like the screen was a little too bright. That had happened in the past very rarely so I didn't think much about it. The next day it got worse and I started having eye pain after about ten minutes of looking at my monitor (keeps in mind I've looked at monitors for hours before with no problems like this). For two weeks, I couldn't stand to look at ANY screens. TV, computer, phone, etc. I had to use my phone and PC occasionally but could only tolerate it when the brightness on these devices was completely turned down. The pain was like having really dry eyes but when I looked at a screen, I could feel a pain shooting through my eyes (mostly my right eye but still in both.) After two weeks, it got a little better and I could look at screens some, but the brightness has to stay low and it still hurts some more days than others. It's been 5 months and it won't go away. I've been using drops for severe dry eyes and it seems to have helped a little but not much.

NOTE: I went to my eye doctor a few days ago. He checked my prescription, focusing range, and looked into my eyes (but he didn't dilate them). He basically said my eyes were perfectly fine and told me to take breaks every once in a while when using a computer and pushed me out the door (in a manner of speaking). I've been taking huge breaks and limited my use to 1-2 hours a day and still I have the same pain.

What should I do? I start college for a tech degree this fall and it hurts to look at screens. I'm in a deep depression now because I can't find relief and I need to know how to fix this. I know there's something wrong with me, I just don't know what. Should I get a second opinion? I've read that if your eyes are really dry or something, you could have a tear or do some kind of damage and need to put antibiotic ointment on your eyelids to help repair them. I don't know if that's true but I friend described my problem to his eye doctor out of state and that's what he said. And I've read it in a few places online. 

It would mean the world to me if anybody would lend their advice. I'm so close to  just giving up and hope I can be happy in another career & routine that doesn't involve as many screens but it's making me miserable.

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  • Posted

    Obviously a very bad time in your life to be having this problem!

    I would most definitely get a second opinion. If your eye docor is a optician not a consultant ophthalmologist he may have limited credentials to advise you anyway, but if you feel there's a probem, then there's a probem. Useless to shunt you off.

    You most probably just need screen glasses. The sharp pains may be a result of strain and the impact of too bright light.

    You've been given drops for dry eyes, so do the eyes feel dry and itchy when you're not staring at the screen?

    Eyes are sometimes hard to get a clear diagnosis on, but anything that's keeping you from your vital studies needs to be persued to the end.

    I wish you the best of luck with this. Don't give up!

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    • Posted

      I appreciate the reply. The doctor I went to is an Optician. I just wish there was an Opthamalogist closer to where I live.

      The drops were ones I purchased over the counter. They're GenTeal liquid gel drops for severe dry eyes. It seemed to be working well for a while but now I'm starting to feel effects when I'm not looking at a screen. Like dryness and irritation even if I'm not doing anything.

      I told the eye doctor about the drops and he didn't even acknowledge what I said. He just kept fooling with his tools on the counter. And as far as my eyes now, I've noticed my right eye is hurting a lot more than my left so maybe I've done some sort of damage.

      Have you read anything about nighttime ointments that you put on your eyelids? I've been considering trying that until I can get to a specialist (I won't be able to go for at least another month)

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    • Posted

      Yes. I think it's Optrex who make a spray that you spray on the eye lids. There are two different strengths so in your case I'd go for the strong one. Its not an ointment though. For ointments you may need LacriLube, which is a gel, or something else.

      There are many products and I'd get my eye doctor to recommend something.

      But your dry eyes may be a symptom of something else, so get your ophthalmologist appointment as soon as you can.

      Do you have a dry mouth too?

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    • Posted

      If you aso have a dry mouth, I would definitely tell this to your opth or GP as well.

      I may be way off the mark here, but there is an auto-immune condition called Sjogrens (pronounced shogrens, I was recently told) whose symptoms are dry mouth and very dry eyes.

      You could see online if anything else there clicks with you.

      Just a thought....

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  • Edited

    Upon seeing this , I seem to be experiencing exactly the same eye issues as you. Up until a couple of monthes ago I could use a computer for unlimited amounts of time without any issues and then suddenly I similarly felt my eyes strain slightly one day. From that momement onwards, I havn't been able to look at a computer for more than about 15 minutes without my eyes hurting! I've seen various opticians that suggest my eyes are perfectly healthy/don't need glasses etc

    Anyway, I was wondering whether you have had any luck in finding out what your issue was and what you have done to treat it?

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    • Posted

      I have actually! That eye doctor I mentioned in my first post was a complete dud. I ended up going to a new eye doctor months later and they found so many things wrong like an outdated prescription, oil glands in my eyes being clogged up causing severe dryness, etc.

      After a few months of the new eye doctors trying different things to no avail (they helped, but didn't eliminate the issues), they decided to send me to a vision therapist. Basically, I have something called Convergence Insufficiency -- where my eyes don't work together to focus anymore, so they constantly strain themselves.

      Vision therapy is basically physical therapy for your eyes, so you do a lot of exercises & stretches to strengthen you muscles. I recommend you either talk to your eye doctor about vision therapy, or look into it on your own. I've had to postpone some of my appointments due to college right now, but they've made my pain level decrease significantly.

      Good luck!

      Emis Moderator comment: I have removed the link(s) directing to site(s) unsuitable for inclusion in the forums. If users want this information please use the Private Message service to request the details.


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    • Posted

      This post has given me tremendous hope. I have the same symptoms. My eyes feel like they are going to pop out of my head every time I look at a screen. I am a software developer which makes this problem really tough. Would you be able to DM that link to the exercises? I have done some cursory research for exercises just now, but could certainly use some more validate resources.
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    • Posted

      I'm glad to hear you have some hope now! And yeah, being in any computer related field makes this problem really concerning. As far as a link to the exercises, I don't really have one as they're all given to me by my therapists and are mostly physical objects that I use. The link that was removed led to the website of the vision rehabilitation center I go to.

      HOWEVER, if you go to the wikipedia page for "Vision therapy", you'll find a section about half way down the page called "Eye exercises" and most of the things listed are what I've been doing for months now.

      I highly, highly recommend you actually talk to a vision therapist though, because a lot of those exercises have to be done in steps based on your eye strength. I'm a full time college student with a job in sound design so I spend upwards of 10-12 hours a day looking at screens with only minimal pain now (compared to severe pain before therapy).

      The one thing I can recommend in the mean time is something called pencil pushups -- you can start doing them anytime and they will help in the long run (especially if you start treatment). As I've said in previous posts, get a second opinion if your current eye doctor says nothing is wrong. If that doesn't work, get a third opinion, and so on. I was literally told there was absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes by an eye doctor even though I said the pain was almost unbearable -- a second opinion gave me my life back.

      Best of luck to you, my friend!

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    • Edited

      I could've sworn I just replied to you a few minutes ago, but I can't see my response now...

      So if I have and this is a duplicate reply, just disregard it. I'm happy that you have some newfound hope after reading this post! Before finding out what was wrong with my eyes, I was absolutely miserable. A mixture of pain and fear was a daily battle for me. But now that pain has faded thanks to the right treatment and it's great to get to share what I've learned with other people like me.

      I'll PM you some links I've been sharing with others on this post and hopefully they will point you in the right direction!

      Again, I feel like I've already replied to this once, but I can't see my response anywhere on the page (technology is a pain sometimes!)

      Best of luck!

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    • Posted

      I sincerely appreciate the response and pointing me in the right direction. I just reached out to a vision therapist to book a consultation and started doing some of the exercises I found on the web. For so long I haven't been able to figure out how to solve this except for taking NSAIDs which never worked. I am really happy I came across your post. Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

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    • Posted

      Hi there - just came across your great advice.  Please send me the links that you have mentioned.  I am suffering from eye pain since 6 months when ever i see tv or phone for 5 min Thanks
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    • Posted

      Dear UnknownTous,

      Thank you so much for this thread and I dearly hope you are still responding. I don’t feel quite as alone reading it. 

      The problem you have described has defined the last five years of my life. In 2013, after a long period of emotional difficulty and using extended video gaming as a balm to that, I had a migraine from looking at the screen, and can now only look at computer screens for a period of 20mins-2hrs before an onset of symptoms including pain, nausea, and confusion. It starts as a sensation that my eyes are struggling to focus, and then migraine symptoms follow. These can last for sereral painful days. This occurs most often when trying to read text and other forms of information. My eyes can take video and other more complex imagery for a bit longer, but the result remains the same. This does not happen in any other circumstance - not on the page, nor on the Kindle screen - just on the computer and, in a less severe manner, on the phone.

      I have had an operation to fix my squint. I have seen countless professionals. I own all sorts of different types of headgear, including prescription glasses and Migralens. I am DESPERATE. The agony continues to this day within minutes of looking at a screen. I cannot find appropriate work. Nothing else has had such a devestating impact on my life’s circumstances as this. If you have ANY more information you can PM to me about what strategies you followed, I need to know them. May everyone commenting find a way out of this miserable prison. Thank you.

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