Brits at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome due to excess lockdown screen use

Based on Ofcom’s data* revealing that screen time surged more than a third during the April lockdown, vision experts from Essilor are warning people not to neglect their eyesight during lockdown 2.0 or risk very noticeable eyestrain.

Statistics recorded at the height of the first lockdown UK adults spent more than 40 per cent of their waking time glued to a device, a daily average of four hours and two minutes online. This is up from just under three and a half hours in September 2019.

With the UK back in lockdown, our smartphone, tablet and laptop screens will once again become the window to our social lives, entertainment, education, workouts and so much more – not to mention the millions of people who use a screen for work every day.

As a world-leading innovator in spectacle lens technology, Essilor.co.uk is encouraging Brits to take extra precautions to avoid eyesight issues and discomfort caused by digital screen -usage or risk developing visual fatigue also known as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Dr. Andy Hepworth from www.essilor.co.uk explains: “Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a condition resulting from looking at a digital device (phone, tablet &/or computer screen) for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time; because the screen distance will make eyes work harder amplified by pixels constantly refreshing and the eyes must constantly refocus to see the screen clearly. The muscles within the eye are unable to recover from the strain. It is also proven that people blink less frequently when staring at a screen, which causes eyes to dry, become slightly itchy and in some cases can result in blurred vision. Glasses wearers that have incorrect or outdated prescription lenses can also be more susceptible to CVS.

“Signs of CVS are often overlooked, but left unchecked, could lead to longer term eye health issues. Symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain. If you are suffering from any of these ailments you should contact your local optician, which will remain open during lockdown, for an eye exam.”

Fortunately, computer vision syndrome and digital eyestrain is not a permanent vision problem, but something that can be controlled with some simple changes in behaviours. Essilor.co.uk has created a four-step guide to promote digital eye health:

ONE:  Prevent eye strain with ‘Eye Yoga’

It goes without saying that taking breaks from screens will help to reduce eye-strain. An easy way to get into a positive habit is to follow the 20:20:20 rule.

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Or take part in eye yoga, anywhere, anytime. Look to the left, hold the position, repeat looking right. Look up, hold the position, repeat looking down. Repeat four times, closing your eyes and relaxing in between.

TWO: Use lenses to combat CVS  

Eyezen lenses, with first of its kind DualOptim technology, are specialist ‘computer lenses’, designed to reduce eye strain or visual fatigue. Wearing these lenses can support your eyes from working so hard especially when using digital devices. Eyezen lenses can be worn even if you don’t need a prescription. Different waves lengths of light, such as Ultraviolet and Blue-Violet light, can also cause premature eye ageing. Eye Protect System is a unique filtering system that is embedded into Eyezen lenses to create Blue-Violet light filtering glasses.

THREE: Maintain regular eye tests 

Having regular eye tests and wearing the right corrective prescription lenses is the most important way you can protect your sight. By keeping on top of your optician appointments, or maybe going for your first one, you can maintain one of the most important senses we have and see as clearly as possible, for as long as possible. It is important not to be put off visiting your optician because of the pandemic – all practitioners have stringent social distancing measures in place.

FOUR: Take a break and go outdoors

It’s important to take a break from screens and to go outside. Looking at objects in different distances and in natural light can be beneficial for your eyes and sight.

Dr. Andy Hepworth continued, “It is clear that digital technology has played a vital role in our lives this year – the connectivity, creativity and distraction that it has offered has been beneficial to many people’s wellbeing and is something that we should be grateful for. However – there is such a thing as too much screen time and it should be monitored and reduced accordingly. Not only can it cause eyesight issues, it can also disrupt your sleep and could even impact your mental health. There are lots of ways of staying connected without logging on to a screen – a phone call instead of a Zoom or a socially distanced walk with a friend are great wellness boosters and will give your eyes a break.

“Opticians will remain open during this lockdown period so if you are worried about your eyes or are suffering from any symptoms of CVS then you should contact your optician immediately for an appointment.