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Has lockdown affected your eyesight?

Has lockdown affected your eyesight?

Thursday 17 December 2020

With many areas of the UK still subject to strict lockdown restrictions after having spent the majority of 2020 mostly confined to our homes, it’s no surprise that our overall well-being has been impacted, with one in five people reporting that their eyesight has noticeably deteriorated as the pandemic has worn on.

According to a survey conducted by the College of Optometrists, 20% of participants reported that their eyesight had declined since the nation first went into lockdown back in March, with many attributing the change to having spent more time looking at screens whilst shut in at home. Increased screen time coupled with the added stresses of lockdown has inevitably taken its toll on people’s eye health.

Working from home, video calls with friends and family, watching more television, time spent looking at devices…that screen time adds up quickly. According to Dr. Peter Hampson, the cinical director of the Association of Optometrists, “We are not talking long-term damage.” What’s happening, he says, is that we’re simply overworking our eyes.

Screens aren’t the only culprit though. Anything that requires close or detailed focus can have an impact. “Reading a book, knitting or doing intricate DIY can produce similar effects,” says Dr. Josie Forte, a clinical optometrist for Specsavers. “There’s also an element of eye fatigue that results from overusing the focus muscles in the eyes to make the lens work when staring at something, which can result in tired, achy eyes.”

David Cartwright, an optometrist and the chairman of the charity Eye Health UK, says that a lack of outdoor activity throughout lockdown and beyond can affect our eye health as well as our overall fitness. “Physical activity is important for general health and good circulation. But there is also evidence that spending some time outdoors every day is good for your eyes.” Although the latter is not fully understood, it is thought that exposure to a certain amount of bright ambient light akin to that we get outdoors is required for optimal eye health and development. “Getting outside for a walk will give eyes time to relax and may bring other benefits,” Cartwright adds.

Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, Dr. Susan Blakeney advises, “If you feel your vision has deteriorated or if you are experiencing any problems with your eyes, such as them becoming red or painful, you should contact your optometrist.”


  1. Independent.
  2. Glamour Magazine.
  3. Look after your eyes.
  4. the Times.


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