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As we are about to enter a cold snap, The College of Optometrists is urging the public to take steps to protect their vision and eye health this winter, particularly as many more people are working from home.

The College has issued the following advice to safeguard eye health and vision over the winter months:

  • During the pandemic, you may have found that your screen time has increased as you stay indoors more. There is no evidence to suggest increased screen time damages your vision, however you may find it tiring to look at a monitor for long periods of time. To reduce eye strain, we suggest:
    • Positioning your monitor so it’s roughly arms lengths away from your eyes
    • Minimising any distracting reflections in your screen, e.g. windows
    • Looking at something 20 ft away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes
    • Blinking regularly. Focusing on a screen may make you blink less, which may make your eyes dry and uncomfortable.
  • Many people will be working from home this winter, and lighting is very important for vision. If you have problems seeing in low light, we recommend sitting close to a window during the day if you need to see something clearly, like the text in a book or magazine.
  • Sunglasses aren’t just for summer. Snow and ice are reflective, so the sun’s rays can reach your eyes from below as well as above. The low sun in winter can be particularly dazzling, so wear sunglasses on sunny winter days, particularly when driving.
  • If you suffer from dry eyes, which may be exacerbated by central heating, lower the temperature in rooms when possible and open windows, even for a few minutes. You can also use a humidifier, or have a bowl of water near the radiator to help humidify the air. Your optometrist or pharmacist will also be able to advise you on suitable moisturising eye drops if you need them.
  • There is evidence that encouraging children to spend time outdoors could reduce the onset of myopia (short sightedness) so do try made sure they have some time playing outside each day.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists explains; “As winter approaches, you may notice an increased need to wear your glasses. This is because when there is less light available, your pupil expands which reduces the eye’s depth of focus, and means that you notice blurriness more. We know more people are working from home at the moment, and this might have an impact on your vision too, make sure you take regular breaks from your computer screen and that you have good lighting or sit near a window for natural light, all of these things will make a big difference to your eye health.

“If you have any issues with your vision, call your optometrist to book an eye examination. They are open for routine appointments and sight tests so don’t put off your visit.”

The College has developed an eye health poster to highlight the different ways winter can affect vision and exacerbate eye conditions.

According to research conducted by The College in September 2020, two-thirds (66%) of British adults admit to experiencing blurred vision and a third (35%) believe their vision has markedly deteriorated in the past two years.

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The College is the professional body for optometry. We qualify the profession and deliver the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.
2. Research undertaken by Opinium on behalf of College of Optometrists in September 2020. The sample was 2,000 British adults.