Over the past year many people throughout Ireland have been feeling the stress and strain of lockdown, not only on their mental health but also on their eyes. In a bid to help this eye strain, a British eye health charity, Fight for Sight, is recommending people learn the "20-20" rule to protect their sight, a simple yet effective tool that everyone can put to use.
Out of 2,000 people, half used screens more since Covid struck and a third (38%) of those believed their eyesight had worsened, a survey carried out by the charity suggested. The representative survey of 2,000 adults suggested one in five were less likely to get an eye test now than before the pandemic, for fear of catching or spreading the virus. Respondents reported difficulty reading, as well as headaches and migraines and poorer night vision.
The research charity, which commissioned a survey from polling company YouGov, said it wanted to emphasise the importance of having regular eye tests and to remind people the majority of opticians and eye clinics are open for appointments throughout lockdown restrictions.
Phillip McGlade, CEO of Ireland’s No.1 Private Eye Clinic, Optilase, said the results were interesting but unsurprising, ‘It should come as no surprise to us that more time spent at home has meant that it’s likely that we’re on our screens more. Many of us who are working or studying from home are staring at laptops and other devices all day. Lockdown eye strain can be a very real problem if you don’t take some actions to relax our eyes.
What we’ve seen across the industry is that new ways of working are taking a toll on people’s eyes in general. Itchiness, blurry vision and headaches - or eye strain - are among the common problems. What’s important to remember out of all of this is that the majority of Opticians and Private Eye Clinics are open for appointments and advice - whether you need a simple eye test or feel that you have something more serious that you need medical advice on like Cataracts - our message is to make that appointment and give your eyes the care they need today.’
So just what can make a difference to our declining eyesight? And what is the 20/20 rule? Optilase explains all and reveals a few tips to help us to look after our sight a little bit more in these testing times.
What is the 20/20 rule?
One really simple, but crucial way to reduce eye strain is to relax the muscles around your eyes, and the good news is that this is very simple to do. Every 20 minutes, just look at something at least 20ft away, that's about six metres, for 20 seconds. This simple exercise can stop your eye muscles getting overworked, something which lockdowns have made that more likely, as more and more people follow up daytime hours in front of a laptop with screen-based leisure in the evenings.
Reducing your eye strain in small steps - Get outside and take screen breaks
One simple yet effective way to reduce eye strain is to get outside and take as many short screen breaks as you can throughout the day. Taking regular screen breaks is essential as it gives your eyes a chance to look into the distance and blink, and the more you do this the better - remember you only need short screen breaks - in fact research suggests that these are more effective than longer breaks.
It might be an obvious one, as being outdoors can help us in so many ways not just with our eyes - but heading out for some fresh air is a great way of relieving pressure on your eyes, as well as helping with your all-round physical and mental health. That's obviously difficult during lockdown, especially for people who don't have access to a garden or balcony. It's not clear exactly how being outdoors helps your eyes. It might just be that you tend to relax them more when you're outdoors by spending more time looking at objects further away. The impact of sunlight on the growth of the eye may also be a factor.
So make the most of any time outdoors - you’re not only resting your eyes but you’re getting out and about, which will always make you feel better.
Make time to blink (yes, really)
Many top Ophthalmology experts say that blinking plays a really important role in keeping eye strain to a minimum, and this is why. Eyelids work like windshield wipers as they clear away dust and dirt and wash the surface of the eye with tear fluid. Blinking also clears stagnant fluid and sharpens your vision by keeping the cornea, or surface layer of your eye, moist. Without that moisture, the cornea becomes dry and the vision blurry. The problem is that we blink less often when we read from a screen, according to many studies. Some researchers also suggest that more of our blinks are incomplete when using a screen, with the upper and lower eyelids failing to fully connect. That can leave your eyes itchy, dry and infection-prone.
It’s time to take that short screen break, or to stop working on your screen every once in a while - and close your eyes completely.
Time to think about your screen
Experts say your screen should be about an arm's length, or 40 to 75cm from your face.
Getting the distance right is particularly tricky with laptops which are often too close to the user's eyes. If the screen is too close, you risk continually overworking your eye muscles, if it's too far away you'll struggle to see small details. Use an external keyboard to help you if you can, an external monitor can also help - and talk to your employer as many are willing to provide equipment to staff working from home.
It's not a good idea to work on a smartphone or a tablet for long periods because the text is too small. While there is no ideal size that suits everyone, you should find a font size that's most comfortable for you for reading. Adjusting the brightness of your screen so it matches the level of the surrounding light is another good way to avoid eye strain. If you can, avoid working in a dark room with a bright screen. Experts say dark text on a light background is generally better for your eyes than light text on a dark background.
Call Optilase today
Need more advice on looking after your eyes? Optilase are Ireland’s No.1 Private Eye Clinic offering services such as Laser Eye Surgery, Reading Vision Correction and Cataract Surgery.
Optilase offers a top customer experience for every customer that walks through their door, from start to finish. In fact, Optilase is Ireland’s only eye surgery provider to be rated as five star on both customer and clinical patient review websites.
Testament to the patient care and services Optilase provide is the fact that many of our patients come to Optilase after a recommendation from a friend or family member. The company has also had a large number of recommendations from GPs, Optometrists, Optical Chains and Ophthalmologists, proving that the experience that you get in Optilase really is thoroughly professional and market leading.
So why is the team in Optilase still Ireland’s No.1 Private Eye Clinic after twenty years? As a proud, family-owned Irish business they have a brilliant team of medical professionals, all of whom are focused on providing the very best eye treatment available, using the latest and most sophisticated technology.
Optilase has performed over 50,000 eye surgeries since its inception in the market - making it a household name across Ireland that can be trusted. Their focus is on providing best in market care and support as you navigate through your journey to better sight. With Clinics all over Ireland, so no matter where you are across the country, you will have access to a premium Laser Eye Surgery, Cataract or Reading Vision Correction experience.
Check out Optilase’s YouTube channel today for more on these procedures and more about what your path to better sight will look like once you call the Optilase team.
Optilase remains open through Level 5 restrictions. Call the team in Optilase today for more information on any of their services, including a free consultation on +353 1 223 8821.