Eye Soreness in the Cinema?

Watched something in the cinema for the first time since the pandemic. For the first 30 minutes, I had some delicious active focus. But afterwards, my eyes just feel… tired. Like whenever I close them it just hurts. Active focus kinda works, but it’s not that satisfying feeling as when I’m out active focusing outdoors.

Does it have anything to do with me just staring at a fixed distance on the screen? – even though it’s really far away like in the theatre? Or the crazy contrast of the screen and the rest of the theatre?

What do you think?

I think you could have developed a sluggishness of saccade. In me it was found to also contribute to eye strain and cause dry eyes.

My take is that you could increase your AF time gradually, and not AF’ing all day long right from the beginning of your journey. And try to also track other objects with your eyes, don’t just stare and “cut off” your side vision.

Saccades are natural part of visual operation, so I’d not swap them for AF. Any staring for the sake of AF eventually should lead to effortless AF.

Related: Saccade - EyeWiki

For me, active focus acts like a muscle, suffers fatigue like a muscle, recovers like a muscle, and gets stronger when I work it out over time (e.g. I can active focus stronger vs my baseline when my active focus is “in shape”). And just like real skeletal muscles, they can be trained for “endurance”, in my case, active focusing for ours while I do software engineering.

It is one of the reasons that I think that my version of active focus involves the eye muscles (the other big reason is my active focus is unaffected by paralyzing the front of my eyes to dilate my pupils). All the patterns I get match very closely to what happens with “traditional” exercises.

So if my theory is right, your active focus got “tired”. But if you watched movies in a cinema regularly (several times a week), it would “get in shape” for movie watching and you’d find watching a movie as painless as jogging a few blocks after months of running training.

I believe the problem with cinemas, though they are relatively distant from you, is the combination of a fixed plane and dark environment. Whenever I watch a movie at home, I find myself having tired eyes with a more myopic vision. What I do now is to shine a light on an object with a different distance from the screen and would have some time looking back and forth. I use a 3m Snellen chart that is 2 meters in front of the screen and I can be aware if I am straining my eyes. This also helps me prevent ciliary spasm from staying at one fixed plane too long.

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