There are six muscles attached to the outside of the eyeball which pull it in various directions, and so enable each eye to be directed upon a common point, otherwise objects will appear double. Weakness of these muscles or insufficiency, especially of those required to direct the eyes inward for near work, may lead to symptoms of eye strain.
When reading, for example, the muscles which pull the eye inward soon grow tired and relax, allowing the opposing muscles to pull the eye outward so that the eyes are no longer directed toward a common point, and two images may be perceived or, more frequently, they become fused together producing a general blurring on the page.
Then by a new effort of will the internal muscles pull the eyes into line again, only to have the performance repeated, all of which entails a great strain upon the nervous system, and may lead to permanent squint, as has been pointed out.
In addition to these symptoms caused by weakness of the eye muscles seeing double, blurred vision, and want of endurance for close work there are others which are common to eye strain in general, as headache, nausea, etc., described in the following paragraph.