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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110 Replies

  • 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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  • Posted

    Hello, I suffer from this exact same problem including dry mouth sometimes and have for about 4 years. I received the same reaction from my optometrist, he gave me some dry eye drops, my next visit he said I need some reading glasses, they did not help. My next visit I told him how bad it is and he said my eyes are fine and that's it. I have asked my general doctor and he has no idea. If you or anyone know something or find out anything I would be forever grateful. Thanks
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    • Posted

      I have the same problem. I tried replying to this thread a while ago but had my reply deleted.

      I was posting a link to a site that has been the only thing that has worked for me. What your experiencing is called CVS.

      PM me if you want to know more

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    • Posted


      I am experiencing the same problem for months.

      Neither doctor couldnt find anything.

      They think CVS. cant last that long.

      Please if you have some information it would meen a world to me.

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    • Posted

      I highly recommend you read my reply to James from about 3 months ago if you haven't. I'll go ahead and give a very brief rundown of that post just because I think this information is very important. I was diagnosed with Convergence Insufficiency (basically your eyes don't work together to focus anymore). The solution to this problem is to get Vision Therapy for your condition. Do some research on that ailment and that type of therapy and I think you just might find some relief soon.

      I've been in vision therapy for around two months now and I've actually been able to completely stop wearing my "every-day" glasses. I still need my computer specific prescription, but the pain has diminished profusely.

      Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your response!

      We have similiar symptoms regarding computers but in my case my eyes hurt when I am near air conditioner or outside on dry air.

      Do you have these symptoms?

      Also could you tell me could I test convergence insufficency myself in any way?

      I have visited three different doctors and they said the my eyes are not dry at all. Everything is fine according to them.

      Last two months I dont use computer or watch tv.

      My condition is not getting any better.

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    • Posted

      HI unknownThous, it has been 2 months sonce your laat post. Om glad i found this forum. I have exactly like your problem. My eyes get strain easily when looking at digital screen(10-15mins) and im a computer science too. Hows your condition till now? After ther therapy, can your eyes stand longer than before when looking at computer?
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    • Posted

      Hey There,

      ​Are you in the UK? If so, do you know where I can get vision therapy? I think I same the same kind of thing. They prescribed me prisms to try and correct but its no better.



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    • Posted

      My eyes didn't really get dry because of an AC or dry air, but those things would often make my already dried out eyes hurt worse. One problem of mine was that the oil glands under my eyelids were capped over. Normally, your eyelids use this oil to lubricate your eyes when you blink, but if they get capped over, your eyes dry out much faster. This can be fixed by doing daily hot compresses on your eyes and also using hot eye masks.

      Bottom line is this: if you're in pain, there is something wrong. For some reason doctors like to tell you everything is fine and send you on your way without looking deep enough into the issue, but you know when something is wrong. Never stop searching for help! I'll PM you some links that might help you out

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    • Posted

      I'm glad I'm getting to give so many people this information! In my opinion, it should be much easier to find, but unfortunately it's not. My eyes have improved tremendously. Before therapy the most I could manage was about 30 minutes looking at screens & severe pain. Three months into therapy, I'm averaging 8-12 hours a day looking at screens with very little pain/strain.

      I'll PM you some links that might point you in the right direction. Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Hey Alex,

      I'm not in the UK so I'm not entirely sure where you might find a vision therapist. The last eye doctor I went to also prescribed me the prism lenses, but they didn't help much for me either.

      I'll PM you some info that might be able to help you out some. Be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!

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    • Posted

      Hi unknownTous,

      Please PM me the link/some info at

      Many thanks for your help!



      Moderator comment: I have removed the email address as we do not publish these in the forums. If users wish to exchange contact details please use the Private Message service.

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