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Family Focus: Remote work, learning leading to increase in eye strain cases

With so many people still working from home during the pandemic, doctors have seen an increase in complaints of headaches from people staring at a screen even more.

TOLEDO, Ohio — With so many people still working from home, the perks of the flexible schedule may come with a tradeoff: headaches due to eye strain.

All across the country cases of eye strain have risen since the pandemic began.

Dr. Jim Brue with Mercy Health says your eyes work a lot harder when you're staring at a screen; and working from home often means a lot more screen time.

"A lot of people complain about eye strain. Even in businesses that have good ergonomics, you can get a lot of eye strain related to working from home and working on the computer screen, in general," said Dr. Brue.

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But it's not just working adults, Brue says eye strain is affecting our homeschooled kids as well, since they're used to running around all over the place and not used to focusing for such an extended time, like adults.

That strain can have a negative effect on your child's overall health.

However, kids do have an advantage over adults because their eyes have more moisture than adults, which helps the lens focus.

Eye doctors say to help protect your kids' vision, and yours as well, it's important that you find time to rest your eyes, especially when they become sore or develop light sensitivity and blurry vision.

"They'll feel like their eyes are kind of gritty, they'll complain of headaches," said Dr. Brue. "A lot of people will have frontal headaches especially."

Dr. Brue says your eyes work a lot harder when you're staring at a screen because you're blinking two-thirds less often, and less tears means more strain on the eyes.

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And that's partly due to our working environment - our home offices and study spaces.

To help keep your family in focus, Brue recommends you try the 20-20-20 rule.

"Every 20 minutes you should take at least a 20 second break. You should look away and look at least 20 feet," said Dr. Brue. "Not only does it encourage you to blink at that time but it relaxes some of the muscles that have been used to focus the lens on the computer screen."

You should also make sure you have proper lighting, and to help protect your kid's eyes, try and schedule breaks, activities, and games throughout the day.

Doctors also say in recent years they've noticed a lot more adults now need glasses due to an increase in jobs that require computer work, as well as a rise in tablet and smartphone use.