Nine months of staying at home and we ask what has it done to our eyes?
How staying at home can affect our eyes
There have been many discussions about how COVID 19 and numerous lockdowns and tier restrictions have affected public health. But one area which is often overlooked is eye health.
Bring me sunshine
Did you know that a lack of natural light can potentially cause damage to our eyes? Many of us are missing the natural light we enjoyed in our daily commute. Natural light is hugely beneficial for the ongoing health of our eyes. It is well documented that spending just three hours a day outside can make an enormous difference to our vision. It has been suggested that natural light can lower the risk of growing children developing myopia otherwise known as short-sightedness. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the eye which controls the normal growth and development of the eyeball and it is stimulated by natural light. If the eyeball grows abnormally long then it will send images to the brain which are out of focus. In other words, it causes myopia.
It’s not just for kids
Natural light doesn’t just benefit youngsters. Studies have shown that exposure to natural light is especially important for the elderly. It has been proven to reduce depression and help in the fight against Alzheimer’s, dementia and other neuropsychiatric symptoms. Usually, the light levels indoors are lower than outdoors, this can make things more challenging to see and makes us focus that little bit harder. This becomes even more of an issue during the winter months. When we increase our exposure to daylight we significantly improve our quality of sleep and so our overall health and wellbeing too.
Zooming in on screen time
What about those of us who are working from home? With smaller working spaces and spending more time glued to our laptops, many of us have less scope to use our long-distance vision. The rule of thumb has always been that when using a computer we should all look 20 metres away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes; that’s easier said than done when working from home. We have often blogged about how excessive screen time can lead to dry and sore eyes. Numerous studies have shown us that when staring at a screen our blink rate drops significantly and our tear film begins to evaporate and in turn, our eyes become drier and can become sore.Luckily these issues are not thought to cause any permanent damage to eyes and there are some quick and easy remedies. Increasing the magnification on the screen, or using a larger font, will ensure that our eyes are straining less. Taking frequent breaks from the screen, and remembering to blink. Don’t forget the 20, 20, 20 rule, this helps to restore our tear film and keep our eyes moist. If this doesn’t help, then it’s maybe time to try some lubricating eye drops, but always check with the optician first.
Don’t put it off
We feel that the real danger to eyesight posed by lockdown is that many people have been putting off attending optician appointments. Elderly people are much more at risk of developing serious eye problems yet they’re also the group who have been shielding and they are anxious about going out and actively avoid going to appointments. Serious eye conditions are still happening but people just aren’t getting them checked out. Unlike the fatigue and eye strain many conditions that our optometrists diagnose, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged and is caused by a build-up of intraocular pressure. Macular degeneration is an eye disease that may get worse over time. It’s the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over age 60. It happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula, wears down. These disorders can be permanent and lead to blindness if not treated quickly. Often there are no symptoms or it’s not noticeable if it’s only in one eye. Some people might think things will get better or rectify themselves. In the case of conditions such as Glaucoma and macular degeneration, treatment is time-critical and should not be delayed.
One in the eye
A final danger to our eyes in lockdown is accidents. Having the time to catch up on our hobbies, DIY projects and pottering in the garden while working from home can have its risks. During the first lockdown, our optometrists saw a notable rise in the number of clients presenting with foreign bodies in their eyes. Dust or grit can be rinsed out, but there is a risk of damage to the cornea and can become infected. DIY projects involving hammering or drilling can cause particles to fly towards the eye. If this happens then, at the very least get advice from an optometrist, but depending on the extent of the injury a visit to the eye hospital may be necessary. With that in mind, we always recommend wearing goggles when doing any DIY that can put the eyes at risk.
Don’t delay, act today
It’s recommended that most people should get their eyes tested every 2 years. However, anyone with a family history of eye problems should attend more often. Even if you are not aware of any problems you should have your eyes tested every 2 years. The eye test is a regular health check, which can detect underlying health problems as well as changes in your vision.With lockdown now being more stringently enforced once again, it’s important to take care of your eyes and give them some much needed TLC. If you are worried about COVID and having an eye test at the current time, rest assured that our Optometrists, Opticians and support staff all follow the current guidelines to the letter. To help our clients feel safe we invested early in your protection, installing large perspex screens and hospital-grade ozone generators to kill any viruses, UVC sanitisers and steam floor cleaners. All our staff wear PPE and scrubs as they can be boil washed. We clean using a 70% ethanol solution as recommended by the College of Optometrists and the World Health Organization (WHO) and we record contact details of anyone entering the practice for contact tracing purposes and pre-screen all appointmentsSo don’t delay, act today, book your appointment by calling Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090
1- 3 Station Street, Meltham, West Yorkshire HD9 5NX