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Eye fatigue increasing problem over pandemic

Staring at a screen more than ever before? You're not alone.

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Eye doctors say more people might be experiencing eye fatigue as they use computers more to work and learn.

The pandemic has caused more people to stare at screens longer for their jobs or school. Eye doctors said that can lead to tired, dry eyes.

"Now, people have no commute, so they're on their computer earlier," said Dr. David MacKay, of MacKay Vision Center in Bedford, New Hampshire. "They don't have to go anywhere to meet up with anyone else. Everything's right there or it's Zoom or it's email. So, it's just constant all day."

MacKay said the situation is creating some new issues for people's eyes.

Most notable: Fatigue.

"That feeling after you've been on the computer for a while when you just want to close your eyes or you want to get your hands on them and rub them a little, but because your eyes are bothering you, that's certainly a sign," he said.

MacKay said screen position is important. He said people should be able to look down at a screen by 15-20 degrees, never straight at it or up.

"The human eyeball, especially in the elementary schools, isn't really that adept to a lot of near-focusing for long periods of time, so we do see some eye strain and vision strain, especially in kids," MacKay said.

Experts said breaks are critical, and MacKay cited a 20-20 rule.

"That is, for about every 20 minutes of continuous screen time, you want to take at least a 20- to-30 second break just to kind of back away from the screens," he said. "Let your eyes refocus on some object that's out in the distance."

MacKay said the good news is that eye fatigue is only temporary and can be easily treated with rest and time away from screens.

He also recommends getting an annual eye exam.