More than four in 10 working adults believe an increase in screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a deterioration in their eyesight.
This is according to a poll commissioned by charity Fight for Sight, which found 49% of respondents’ screen time had increased during the pandemic – a third of whom said it had increased by more than two hours per day.
Thirty-eight per cent said they were spending more time looking at screens during lockdown, which had led to problems including migraines, difficulty reading and poorer night vision.
In spite of this, 21% were less likely to get an eye test now than they were prior to the pandemic because of worries about getting or spreading Covid-19. Nine per cent said they would not visit an optician because they thought eye tests were too expensive.
Under workplace health and safety regulations, employers much arrange and pay for an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if an employee asks for one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use.
The majority of opticians are open for appointments throughout the lockdown
To help prevent eye strain, Fight for Sight said workers should be encouraged to adopt the 20-20-20 rule, whereby they look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of screen time.
Sherine Krause, Fight for Sight chief executive, said: “With the Covid-19 pandemic having forced so many of us to move to digital working, online learning and even virtual socialising, it is not surprising that our screen time has soared this year.
“However, it’s vital that the benefits of increased digital access and use during lockdown do not come at the detriment of our eye health. We would urge employers to take their responsibilities towards staff seriously during this period of extended home working and to encourage employees to take regular breaks from screens.
“People should also continue routine eye care throughout the pandemic and to get their eyes tested if they feel their sight has deteriorated. More than half of all cases of sight loss are avoidable through early detection and prevention methods and regular eye tests can often detect symptomless sight-threatening conditions.”