Coronavirus

Eyesight warning over increased screen time use during lockdown

People are being urged to take better care of their eyes as a survey reveals screen time use significantly increases during lockdowns.

As England continues to adjust to its third lockdown, eye charity Fight for Sight is advising screen users take time out away from their devices to help preserve their eyesight.

The organisation recommends looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes when using a screen.

A recent poll of 2,000 people showed that half of the respondents were using their devices more since the pandemic began and a third believed their sight had declined.

Optometrists are still open during lockdown, although the survey also showed that only one in five people would now book an eye test as they are fearful of catching COVID-19.

Fight for Sight chief executive Sherine Krause said: “With the Covid-19 pandemic having forced so many of us to move to digital working, online learning and even virtual socialising, it is not surprising that our screen time has soared this year.

“However, it’s vital that the benefits of increased digital access and use during lockdown do not come at the detriment of our eye health. We would urge employers to take their responsibilities towards staff seriously during this period of extended home working and to encourage employees to take regular breaks from screens.

“People should also continue routine eye care throughout the pandemic and to get their eyes tested if they feel their sight has deteriorated. More than half of all cases of sight loss are avoidable through early detection and prevention methods and regular eye tests can often detect symptomless sight-threatening conditions.”

Eye research has shown that overuse of devices can lead to myopia, otherwise known as short-sightedness, which is why it is so important to take screen breaks, particularly among children.

Fight for Sight funded researcher Professor Jeremy Guggenheim said“Research has shown convincingly that insufficient time spent outdoors is a risk factor for myopia. Excessive time viewing electronic devices may pose an additional risk. Therefore, clinicians around the world are worried that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions may elevate the already high levels of myopia in many regions.”

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