Eye strain and other sight-related issues have increased significantly since the first pandemic lockdown as new research finds 42% of people have noticed their sight deteriorate since March 2020[i].
This is almost double the number of people noticing sight deterioration during the first lockdown (22%), as reported by the College of Optometrists[ii]. Yet, the new study by high street opticians Specsavers shows that nearly half (44%) of those suffering any deterioration are yet to address the issue and see an optician[iii]. This supports a recent YouGov survey by the charity Fight for Sight, which also found more people experiencing headaches and migraines, as well as difficulty reading and poorer night vision[iv].
Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, says: ‘It’s important that anyone noticing a change in their vision gets it seen to right away. While usually this is down to a change in prescription or from our eyes feeling tired, in other cases it can be something more serious.
Stores open for eye and hearing tests
‘Our stores remain open for eye and hearing tests, and those unable to leave home unaccompanied can request a home visit from Specsavers or use our RemoteCare video and phone consultation service instead. ‘For non-urgent enquires there is our Ask The Expert Facebook page, which has seen a surge in people looking for help with eye strain in the latest lockdown, particularly around headaches and migraines, sore, tired eyes and eye twitches.’
Ask The Expert service available
Ask The Expert is an innovative service, manned by optometrists who can answer questions relating to everyday eye care or recommend booking an appointment as necessary. Such is the uplift in enquiries in recent weeks, more optometrists are being recruited to meet demand.
Facebook says: ‘Nearly 2 million people in the UK have now joined more than 2,000 local COVID-19 community support groups on Facebook since the beginning of April . It’s so exciting to see Specsavers being innovative on our platforms in offering support and providing a key service to people across the country at this time.’
Specsavers’ research suggests conditions associated with eye strain are likely to be augmented by screen use. 60% of people said they spent five hours or more looking at screens, including laptops, monitors, phones and TV during the weekday last year, with this figure only dropping by 1% during the weekend. This amount of time spent on screens is causing concern for 61% of those surveyed[v].
Mr Edmonds continues: ‘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. They may feel uncomfortable, sore, tired and as if they are itching or burning. You may also be experiencing from blurred vision and headaches too.’
Key tips for eye care
Mr Edmonds advises to:
- 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.
- Adjust your workstation – Adjusting your screen settings to ensure that the brightness and contrast are balanced correctly can help, as well as making fonts larger. Also be mindful of how your workstation is positioned. Adjust your screen so it is 15-20 degrees below eye level and around 50-70cm away from the eyes and make sure your room is properly lit to avoid squinting.
- 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. Glasses wearers can also have lenses treated with an anti-glare coating, such as Specsavers UltraClear SuperClean, to help limit the impact of light reflections on your eyes to reduce eye strain. They are also smudge and scratch resistant, which help to give an overall clearer view of your screen too.
- Update your lenses to suit your lifestyle – Those who wear varifocals could also consider special lenses such as Specsavers’ SuperDigital lenses. Unlike traditional varifocals, the near vision zone in SuperDigital lenses is designed to cater for the way we hold our phones, making it easier to transition between viewing screens and looking further away. This is because phones are generally held at a closer, higher position that can be difficult to adjust to.
For more information or to request an appointment at your local store, visit .
[i]Source: Specsavers Customer Panel. 8th Jan - 13th Jan. Weekdays N = 2,580 Weekends N = 2,570
[iii]Source: Specsavers Customer Panel. 8th Jan - 13th Jan. N = 2,554.
[v]Source: Specsavers Customer Panel. 8th Jan - 11th Jan. N = 2,556 Concerned N = 1,569.