You may have read about a study published by the University of Hong Kong linking COVID-19 restrictions, screen time and myopia in children. Our Clinical Adviser, Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, explains:
“There has been a general worldwide trend of increasing prevalence of myopia, and this study shows the importance of getting outdoors – not only is it good for general health, but it is shown to help reduce the onset of myopia and potentially the degree or rate of myopia progression.
“While there is no evidence to suggest screens will cause any damage to the eyes, prolonged near activities like using a screen or laptop can cause the eyes to feel uncomfortable and tired. Like any muscle in the body, eye muscles that control eye movement and fine tune focus will become fatigued.
“We recommend that everyone ensures their screens are optimally positioned and take regular breaks. A useful reminder is the 20/20/20 rule, where we advise you look away in the distance (around 20 feet) every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, and blink regularly to keep the eyes comfortable.
“With respect to myopia, there are currently no published reports that replicate the findings of the study in relation to lockdown measures the UK, but it is recognized that staying indoors, rather than any specific near activity such as using a screen, may contribute toward myopia development.”
Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser, College of Optometrists.