What In The World Is Asthenopia?

by ericparker

It's a really big, nasty word, but asthenopia is a term for overusing your eyes -- and there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms.

My eye doctor spared me the medical name, but perhaps yours didn’t. Now you know you have asthenopia, and you’re wondering what you can do about it.

First, don’t worry. While the symptoms can reduce productivity and make you feel miserable, the terrible-sounding name doesn’t mean it’s a terrible disease. Asthenopia is simply a collection of nonspecific symptoms that are commonly known as eye strain.

Eye Pain Can Be Debilitating
Defining Asthenopia

Actually, nailing down a definition for asthenopia is a bit difficult. The term is a general one that refers to various symptoms related to overusing your eyes, including pain in the eye area, dry eyes, a general feeling of fatigue in the eyes, headaches, blurred vision and even double vision. The symptoms happen after doing something up close, like reading or using the computer.

When the symptoms are the result of computer work, they are often given another name that’s just as a nonspecific -- computer vision syndrome. CVS includes the same list of symptoms.

Here’s what happens: When you concentrate for a long time on the same task, the muscles around your eyes tighten. Eventually, these muscles start to hurt. In addition, forgetting to blink can cause dryness that also causes pain and a feeling of irritation in the eyes. When your eyes ache and are also irritated, you start to feel miserable and become unable to get your work done.

I Know First Hand

I finally got up the courage to visit an eye doctor when I could no longer tolerate looking at the computer screen for more than five or 10 minutes. I thought my writing career was over. I knew I should take frequent breaks, look at distant objects and even use saline eye drops to relax and rehydrate my eyes, but nothing seemed to be helping my symptoms.

My doctor didn’t mention asthenopia, eye strain, computer vision syndrome or even dry eyes. He simply told me that most of his business in this modern computer age relates to symptoms like mine. He gave a sample of some high--quality lubricating eye drops and suggested that I try reading glasses for computer use.

Many people solve their eye strain problem with tinted or magnified computer glasses. For me, the eye doctor suggested low power reading glasses with a magnification of +0.50 diopters. When I got my first pair, I knew I has found the solution to my problem.

The first pair I ordered were flimsy and too small for my face, but they helped my symptoms anyway. I did some research on where to get a better pair, and that’s when I found Zenni Optical.

I quickly located what I wanted on Zenni’s website and placed my order. For less than $20, I got exactly what I needed -- sturdy, correctly magnified low power reading glasses with anti-glare coating. They even came with a cleaning cloth and a hard plastic case to protect them.

Asthenopia Doesn’t Need To Be Scary

There’s no reason to be scared or upset by a diagnosis of asthenopia. Eye strain is a very common condition that you can usually treat with reading glasses or computer glasses, lubricating eye drops and changes in your habits.

I was miserable and scared before I visited an eye doctor for information on how to combat my computer vision syndrome symptoms. After learning how common asthenopia and similar conditions are, however, I felt better. When I took the actions he suggested and started taking better care of my eyes, I got the symptom relief I was seeking.

Now, I’m a big believer in eye health. I even wrote a complete Zenni Optical review with instructions on how to order low power reading glasses from that company.

Learning to take care of my asthenopia, dry eyes and other vision symptoms saved my writing career -- and saved me from lots of pain and inconvenience. If you take a little time and effort to take care of your eyes -- and yourself in general -- you can stay in the game or become productive again too.

Updated: 11/09/2012, ericparker
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ericparker on 11/14/2012

It certainly is. Thanks for commenting. Even if you've never heard the term, you probably know people who have it.

dustytoes on 11/09/2012

Never heard of it. With all the people working on computers these days I'll bet it is a prevalent condition.

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