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.
This is almost double the number of people noticing sight deterioration during the first lockdown, 22%, as reported by the College of Optometrists.
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.
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.
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.
‘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 is a unique 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 suggest 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.