The real reason you might get more headaches during the pandemic

We’ve always been this close to becoming addicted to our gadgets, but our tech dependency has gotten even more real since the COVID-19 pandemic came around. Quarantines and lockdowns means that we’re spending even more time staring at screens, whether it’s to communicate with friends, family, or coworkers, order food or groceries, get work done, or just to keep ourselves and the family occupied or entertained. And we may be developing problems from eye strain and eye dryness to dizziness and headaches as a result.

Eye strain doesn’t just happen when we’re looking at our devices (phew!) — it can also happen when we’re reading a real book. Eye doctors say we tend to blink less when we’re reading or staring, and that in turn makes our eyes drier, leaving them irritated and uncomfortable. When all that happens, vision problems and headaches aren’t be far behind. Kathleen Digre, who is an ophthalmologist and president of the American Headache Society told Allure that if your eyes become dry or painful, the condition actually triggers the same part of the brain that deals with migraines. The situation is worse for people who already suffer from migraines regularly, because they can be sensitive to visual stimulation like the blue light that electronic gadgets give off. They are also most likely to struggle during the quarantine as a result.

Ophthalmologists say our eyes need regular breaks

If your eyes are dry and strained as a result of more screen time, you might want to start using artificial tears that will help keep your eyes lubricated; selecting preservative-free artificial tears will make sure your eyes aren’t triggered by additional chemicals. Ophthalmologists also told Allure that they want us to take breaks every 30 or so minutes so to look at something other than our screens. And if you’re prone to migraines, Digre suggests picking up prescription blue-light blockers which can help. In all, it may help to speak to your eye doctor (particularly if tele-health is an option) to make sure you’re taking proper care of your eyes.

But if you’re doing everything the eye doctor ordered, and the migraines and headaches continue to be a problem, you may want to distract yourself from what is going on outside your home by engaging in some kind of physical exercise or stress-relieving activity. Stress can be a migraine trigger for many folks, and the current pandemic situation may only be making things worse (via Migraine Trust).

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