February 4th 2021

The Impact of Increased Screen Time

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives. From socialising with friends and family to our working conditions, it seems that no part of our lives has been untouched.

For many, one of the most stark and biggest changes is that of work. For some, working at home has been an enjoyable and welcome change and for others not so much.

Working from home brings its own challenges and the effect of the increase in screen time on our eyesight is often overlooked.

Last month, Fight for Sight, a leading UK charity dedicated to stopping sight loss, urged the public to protect their eyesight following on from the increase in screen time that the pandemic has brought.

The charity commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey to underline the impact that an increase in time spent in front of digital devices can have on our eyesight. Out of 2,000 people surveyed, half used screens more since COVID-19 struck and a third (38%) of those believed their eyesight had worsened.

The results of the study were further echoed by research from the College of Optometrists, which suggested that just under a quarter of people noticed their vision deteriorate during the first lockdown.

Clinical adviser Paramdeep Bilkhu said: ‘Our research showed us that many people believe that spending more time in front of screens worsened their vision.’

‘The good news is that this is unlikely to cause any permanent harm to your vision. However, it is very important that if you feel your vision has deteriorated or if you are experiencing any problems with your eyes, such as them becoming red or painful, you contact your local optometrist by telephone or online.’

Whist opticians are open for eye examinations, the charity offered simple solutions to give our eyes a break from the screen.

Simple, regular breaks can help to prevent eye strain with Fight for Sight advising to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes you look at a screen.

The charity seeks to emphasise the importance of having regular eye tests and to remind people ‘the majority of opticians are open for appointments throughout lockdown restrictions’.

Fight for Sight chief executive Sherine Krause said: ‘More than half of all cases of sight loss are avoidable through early detection and prevention methods. Regular eye tests can often detect symptomless sight-threatening conditions.’

Opticians continue to operate and, should you be concerned about your vision, we suggest that you contact your practice. The OCCS would like to thank both the public and the profession during this difficult time and reiterate our support.

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