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Is Squinting Bad for Your Eyes?

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A man in a yellow long-sleeved shirt squinting at his phone.

Squinting is a common action that we often do without even thinking. It’s an instinctive response to bright light or blurry vision. But when it happens a lot, you might wonder if squinting is bad for your eyes.

By itself, squinting isn’t harmful—it’s a way for your eyes to filter out different amounts of light and protect themselves. However, squinting can be an indicator that you may be developing a new eye disease or condition and can make some pre-existing conditions worse.

If you find yourself squinting often, developing headaches, or experiencing constant eye strain, you should visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. We can determine why you may be squinting and if you have any eye conditions that need treatment.

Why Do People Squint?

Squinting is often a subconscious reaction that occurs when you’re trying to see clearly. By narrowing your own field of view, you may be unconsciously attempting to reduce the amount of light hitting your eye, which can help improve focus and clarity.

Squinting can also occur when you’re exposed to bright light since it reduces the amount of light reaching the retina. If you’re exposed to any kind of bright light, you might subconsciously squint to protect the delicate internal mechanisms of your eyes.

However, in many cases, squinting may also be an indicator of a vision problem. If your eyes are struggling to focus on an object or text, you might be squinting to try and see clearly—even if you don’t realize it.

Common Eye Problems That Cause Squinting

If you find yourself squinting often, you might be developing a problem with your sight. There are several common eye conditions that can cause you to squint, even if you don’t consciously realize you’re doing it, including:

These conditions all directly affect how light enters the eye, which can lead to blurred vision and squinting.

Can Dry Eyes Cause Squinting?

In some situations, you may even be squinting due to the development of dry eye syndrome. This is a common eye problem that develops due to a problem with your tear production, leading to the eyes drying out. 

Dry eyes can make you much more sensitive to light, and because your eyes may be missing a healthy, smooth tear layer, light may bend or refract improperly before it reaches the retina, resulting in a blurry image. 

Dry eye syndrome can cause:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye irritation
  • Overly watery eyes, as your eye tries to compensate for the dryness
  • Redness
  • Squinting

Fortunately, dry eye is a treatable condition with several forms of at-home and in-office solutions available for managing symptoms like squinting.

Is Squinting Actually Bad for You?

While squinting can provide temporary relief, it isn’t a permanent solution for any vision problems. In fact, squinting can sometimes make some eye conditions more frustrating.

Constant squinting uses the muscles around the eyes, which can lead to headaches and fatigue. If you don’t give your eyes time to rest and recuperate, squinting can put additional strain on an area that may be already overloaded, leading to worsened feelings of eye strain, eye fatigue, and discomfort.

The bigger problem, though, is that while it’s a natural response—that’s often made subconsciously—squinting actually doesn’t solve any of the problems you might be experiencing. While it can temporarily help filter light and reduce how much reaches the back of your eyes, squinting doesn’t treat any conditions.

This means that while squinting can help bring you temporary relief, eye conditions that cause squinting often won’t go away on their own. If you’re squinting often, you may be developing a more serious problem with your vision that may require the help of an optometrist.

A professional suffering a headache while using his laptop.

Early Signs of Vision Problems

Squinting isn’t the only sign that you may have a problem with your eyes. There are other warning signs to watch out for, including:

  • Frequent headaches (especially after reading or writing)
  • Constant eye strain or eye fatigue
  • Difficulty using digital devices
  • Seeing halos around light sources
  • Difficulty seeing in low-light conditions
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity

These are all symptoms commonly caused by several eye conditions. While different eye conditions can vary in their severity, there are some progressive conditions that can begin with these symptoms and get worse over time. If left unchecked, they may cause long-term damage to your sight, making a visit to the optometrist an essential step to take.

When to Visit an Optometrist for Squinting

While occasional squinting is normal, constant squinting shouldn’t be ignored. If you notice any other symptoms appearing alongside frequent squinting, you should visit us. While squinting itself may not be bad for your eyes, it’s often an indicator that something may be wrong.

Our team at Total Vision Rancho Bernardo can perform a comprehensive eye exam to check how healthy your eyes are and find out what’s causing you to squint. To get answers about your eyes, book an appointment with us today!

Written by Total Vision

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