With the number of people working from home in the future expected to double, the likelihood that we will be spending more time than usual looking at screens is bad news for the nation’s eyes.
Dry eyes and eye strain dubbed ‘Coronavision’
Increased laptop use, constantly checking mobiles and unwinding in front of the TV in the evening adds up to a lot of screen time in a 24-period. This has been called ‘Coronavision’ by tabloid newspapers and social media users.
But eyes are not meant to work in this way. Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director, says: ‘Our eyes are not designed to be fixed on a single object for a long period of time. When we focus on our screens, especially smaller format laptops, tablets or smart devices, eyes become stressed and strained. Our research shows that eye strain has seen a spike during Covid-19 restrictions as lifestyles have changed. So we are focusing our eye health advice campaign on tips to prevent eye strain and irritation with some simple tips.’
Giles says: ‘This includes the eye strain symptoms that people should look out for: eye discomfort, headaches, burning or itchy eyes, watery or dry eyes, blurred or double vision and increased sensitivity to light.’
The consumer advice is:
Rest your eyes – Follow the 20:20:20 rule: look up from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Looking into the distance helps relax the focusing muscles of your eyes, which in turn reduces eye fatigue.
This rule is also important for parents who have children spending a lot of time on screens, whether playing games or home schooling online. Monitor how much screen time they have each day and make sure that they have regular breaks.
Reduce glare – Reflections on your computer screen can cause glare and lead to eye strain. Try reducing this by attaching an anti-glare screen to your monitor or windows to avoid external light shining onto the screen.
Stay hydrated – It’s also good general health advice to keep your water bottle topped up, particularly when you are stuck indoors, the weather is particularly hot, or if you have air-conditioning, as good hydration can help avoid dry eye.
 33% of people surveyed in Specsavers customer panel in July said they had noticed a change in their eyesight. Half (49%) reported being more health aware as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but around 80,000 were unable to attend routine appointments during lockdown restrictions.
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