There is no question that mask-wearing and social distancing have helped slow the spread of COVID-19, but eye doctors say these precautions may be contributing to the rise in cases of computer eye strain, dry eye syndrome, and other eye conditions.
Since the onset of COVID-19, eye doctors are seeing more cases of:
1. Dry Eye Syndrome
While wearing a mask is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks can also cause uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.
The constant flow of exhaled air that flows through the top of a mask can dry out our eyes, causing symptoms like redness and irritation.
To minimize the problem, take frequent breaks from mask-wearing, if at all possible, and choose masks with a pliable nose piece to help prevent the air from escaping through the top of the mask and into your eyes.
In addition to mask-related dry eye, many people who work from home have developed dry eye as a result of increased screen time.
According to research, when working on a computer or even scrolling through social media on our smartphones, we tend to blink less often, so our eyes are less lubricated...
2. Computer Vision Syndrome
Working and studying at home due to COVID restrictions has caused a significant increase in digital device usage, and a condition eye doctors call computer vision syndrome. Symptoms include dry, itchy burning eyes (dry eye syndrome) as well as headaches and focusing difficulties.
With all the time spent working and learning from home and the drastic increase in screen time due to COVID lockdowns, it's not a surprise that eye doctors have seen an increase in the number of patients with worsening myopia.
Studies have found that children who spend a significant amount of time doing “near work” like reading and looking at digital devices have a greater risk of developing myopia and experiencing myopia progression than children who spend much more time playing outdoors.
Encourage your children to spend at least 2 hours a day in the sunshine while wearing sunglasses and sunscreen.
4. Eye Injuries
Eye injuries and accidents, most commonly corneal abrasions (scratches) have increased during COVID lockdowns, as more people have tackled home improvement projects.
Unfortunately, many of these do-it-yourselfers didn’t wear protective eyewear.
Common symptoms of eye injuries include pain, tearing, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, blood in the eye and even vision loss in severe cases.
It is important to seek immediate treatment if you or anyone in your household has sustained an eye injury, to prevent vision loss.
What can you do to protect your eyes and vision?
- Hydrate. Hydration is not only important for keeping your body healthy and energized but can also keep your eyes moist and well lubricated.
- Artificial tears. These eye drops can help to replenish your tears and lubricate your eyes to prevent the dry eye from occurring.
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. This will help your eye muscles to relax and prevent eye strain.
- Blink frequently. It is important to consciously remind yourself to blink often while you are working at your computer. Also, be sure to close your eyes completely upon blinking to give your eyelids a chance to properly spread your tears across the surface of your eye.
- Increase your Omega-3 intake. Omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish oil and certain nuts have been shown to reduce inflammation— a common cause of dry eye. If you want to be sure you are getting enough omega in your diet, ask your doctor about starting an omega-3 supplement.
If you notice any changes in your eye health or vision, call Village Eye Centre in North Edmonton today to schedule an appointment for an eye exam and to discuss how you can protect your eyes and vision from the effects of COVID.
At Village Eye Centre, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain a healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.
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