Posted on 04 March 2021
The last nine months have changed how everyone lives their lives, from working from home to organising home-schooling. It has presented us with new challenges to face as we adjust to lockdowns and restrictions, and our habits have undoubtedly changed drastically.
According to a survey carried out by Fight for Sight, one such change has led to an increased time using digital screens. Many of us are now communicating with colleagues, customers and friends via video calls, texts and emails more than ever before. Coupled with less of us going for an eye exam due to the pandemic, there’s an increased risk of experiencing eyesight issues during the lockdown.
A Fight for Sight report found results from a YouGov poll, demonstrating an increase in screen time and its impact on vision. 49% of respondents said their screen time had increased since the pandemic began, with 21% stating they were less likely to attend an eye test, for fear of catching or spreading the virus.
CAN INCREASED SCREEN TIME AFFECT YOUR VISION?
Focusing on anything close-up for a long time, such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones, can result in discomfort better known as Computer Vision Syndrome. A third of those surveyed believed their eyesight has worsened through lockdown, with some experiencing migraines, difficulty reading and poorer night vision.
Looking at a screen all day can result in eye fatigue. After just 20 minutes of looking at a nearby object, our visual ability weakens and can result in headaches, neck pain or blurry vision. Our eyes must continuously refocus each time digital screens refresh, making our eyes work even harder to see clearly.
Research has now shown that increased screen time or time focusing on near targets during childhood can increase the chances of becoming short sighted (myopic) during their developmental years. This means they are more likely to have associated sight conditions later in life as well as needing spectacles or Contact lenses to see clearly. If already Myopic, increased screen time can encourage further and more rapid progression of the overall power of lenses needed.
Attending regular eye examinations is one of the best ways to ensure your vision isn’t deteriorating, and your optician can also look out for other health problems during a routine test. Opticians are still open in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, offering routine examinations and urgent care.
HOW TO PREVENT EYE STRAIN
You can protect your vision and reduce the risk of eyesight issues in several ways. Firstly, consider the 20-20-20 rule throughout your day. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This can help your eyes to rest momentarily from close-up work.
However, there are long term solutions available to support your vision from prolonged screen use. Eyezen lenses are single vision lenses designed to prevent and reduce eye strain. You can also wear Eyezen lenses if you don’t have a prescription. These lenses have your usual prescription in the distance and intermediate areas of the lens with a relaxation zone built in for areas of the lens your eye would look through to see closer objects like keyboards, tablets and phones. Just think, our visual habits have changed even when watching the Tv many of us are also intermittently looking at our phones fatiguing the eyes further.
Many people need varifocals to see clearly at different distances, but these lenses are for general day to day use and are not necessarily designed to give comfortable viewing for specific prolonged tasks. The usual portion of a lens dedicated to computer distances is about 1/5th and is situated in the lower half of the lens, this mean people have to adopt head postures like raising their chin to see clearly or accept blurred vision therefore making the eyes work harder. Occupational lenses can be made to match a workspace or hobby's visual requirements as an additional or sole pair of spectacles to go alongside an all round solution like a traditional varifocal or single vision distance lens. Some people need to focus on objects just within a 1metre bubble, others up to 2m and so on. We don't just read these days, we look at near objects like phones, tablets, paper and computer screens all at near but at different distances which therefore need slightly different powers to see not only clearly but comfortably These lenses can be purpose built based on the users requirements. Our Opticians would do a near task analysis to determine what design template would suit your needs best.
So, if you’re working on your laptop, catching up with friends on a video call or gaming on a console, protect and prolong your vision with the right lenses. And dont worry although these lenses are much more complicated than single vision they are not much more in cost and come with coatings as standard.
Dry eye issues are on the rise during the lockdowns. Dry eyes can make the eye feel tired, strained and aching.
More time spent indoors, reduced hydration due to mask wearing in work places, masks forcing warm air up into the eyes and people not blinking whilst staring at screens are all to blame. Remember, tears are distributed across the surface of the eye every time we blink. Speak to our ocular hygienists in practice to discuss products that can relieve these symptoms. If you are shielding we will happily discuss your needs over he phone and deliver products to you.
Blue light has a proven association with increased eye strain and fatigue as well as being linked to inhibiting sleep. Blue light is produced by most electronic devises. Coatings can be applied to spectacle lenses to block this blue light out but it can also be reduced by adjusting your electronic device settings. Phones may call it night mode due to its promotion of better sleep. When blue light is removed white appears more yellow and warmer. Simple changes like these can improve visual comfort throughout your day and evening.