Dr Allon Barsam, Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision comments:
“There’s a growing fear that lockdown life – in which millions of adults and children spent hours focusing on a small screen at home – took a toll on many people’s eyesight.
“Prolonged use of computer screens, tablets and smartphones has long been regarded as a risk factor for myopia. But this new analysis shows just how high the risk is, and as the use of such devices mushrooms, makes some stark predictions for the long-term impact on people’s eyesight around the world.
“Of course it’s too soon to know just how much impact the hours of screentime racked up during lockdown will have had on the development of long-term conditions like myopia. But the early signs are not encouraging.
“In March an OCL Vision poll of 2000 people found that two fifths (39%) felt their eyes had suffered from the increased screentime. Over a third (37%) said their eyesight had deteriorated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Fortunately for most people the worst thing they suffer after extended screentime is eyestrain – a feeling of soreness and discomfort. But if you find yourself suffering from eyestrain regularly, it could be a sign that you need glasses, or a new prescription. In this case you should visit an optometrist for advice and an eye test.
“There are also a number of simple things you can do to reduce the strain that working from home has on your eyes, from ensuring the room is well-lit to periodically forcing yourself to blink to keep your eyes well lubricated.
“For those who are already grappling with myopia, it is easily treatable with glasses or contact lenses. We’re seeing a dramatic spike in the number of patients opting for laser surgery as a way to fix their vision for good.
“In the 12 months to November 2021, my fellow surgeons at the OCL Vision clinic and I will have completed 79% more laser procedures than we did during the previous year.”