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Lockdown and vision changes

I went ‘out out’ to the opticians …. a very interesting experience under the current circumstances! We discussed my awesome skills in fixing glasses with Superglue but also, more importantly, signs of digital eye strain.

As a result of the switch to home-working for many people, there has been a big increase in consultations about vision changes and issues during lockdown. So, at the risk of sounding like I’m lecturing my son about screen time, here are some top tips:

  • Obscured sight and blurry vision are symptoms of digital eye strain. It’s not always consistent: you may just have moments of weird vision on a video call. You may also get headaches and tired eyes.
  • If you have switched to home-working, the change in sitting posture, equipment, viewing too near or too distantly may affect your eyesight. So it’s worth checking that your setup is working for you – speak to your employer and check out the HSE workstation assessment https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.htm
  • Significant screen time and lots of video calls all contribute to digital eye strain. We’re not just talking work screen time: most of us finish work and then spend our evenings and weekends on screens too at the moment! Think about a few changes such as minimising glare and turning down screen brightness.
  • It’s really important to take screen breaks – short frequent breaks are better than occasional long breaks. A 5-10 minute break after 50-60 mins of screen time is more beneficial than a 15-20 min break every 2 hours. So try to take a short break every hour.
  • If you can, cut down the amount and length of video calls: if it’s a 1:1 try an old-fashioned voice call. If you’re on a long video call, it’s ok to switch off your camera and look away if your eyes need a rest – it’s a good idea to mention this though, in case they think tech problems have disconnected you.
  • You can try the 20:20:20 trick – every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 ft away for 20 seconds. This reduces eye fatigue. And blink every 20 minutes 10 times to stop your eyes drying out.

If you think your eyesight has changed or you are experiencing problems, contact your optician. You don’t have to go ‘out, out’.  Opticians are providing telephone triage and advice, as well as free eye test offers at the moment. If your job involves lots of screen work, your employer might also provide and pay for an eyesight test, so that’s worth checking.

As I discovered, the opticians are super Covid19-organised for face to face visits, which means I’m now looking forward to picking up funky new glasses!


By Melissa

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