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Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has affected eye health, according to Rutland-based optician

If you have experienced issues with your eyes during the pandemic, you are not alone, according to a Rutland-based optician.

From daily virtual meetings to hours each day spent typing, it is no surprise working from home has had an impact on eye health.

Sonam Ruparelia, an optician at Love Eyecare in Uppingham, has noticed a difference in her patients’ lockdown eyesight due to the increasing amount of time people spend staring at a screen.

Sonam Ruparelia of Love Eyecare in Uppingham
Sonam Ruparelia of Love Eyecare in Uppingham

A higher number of people have become short-sighted or have dry eyes, after screen work increased by about 70 per cent.

Sonam, 31, said: “People should take more breaks from a screen. When a patient is staring at a screen they blink less.

“Assuming someone is working on a screen hour in hour out, for every 20 minutes they should have a 20 second break looking out into the distance.

“If we say take a break, most people reach for their phones but you should look outside the window.”

For many people, they may not realise they have dry eyes until they visit an opticians.

However, signs to look out for are eyes which feel tired, watery eyes when outside on a windy day as ‘tear quality isn’t as good as it used to be’ and a red appearance, specifically towards the end of the day.

Sonam recommends people should generally have eye tests every one or two years but should always book in sooner if they are experiencing any problems.

She said: “A lot of the time someone is having difficulty with their eyes something is not quite right but if someone doesn’t know otherwise and has never had their eyes tested, something quite blurry looks normal to them.”

The introduction of face masks has also changed people’s eye care choices.

Sonam said: “It’s been a massive motivator to go into contact lenses. With spectacles they steam and fog up constantly with masks so more people are wearing lenses.

“It’s easier, particularly for those who need to wear face shields.”

According to Sonam, the best way to prevent them from steaming up is to ensure the glasses have been fitted properly.

While there’s not been a massive increase of people getting laser eye surgery, more enquiries have been made. However, a common side effect is dry eyes and people are required to have a stable prescription first.

In terms of improving general eye health, Sonam has some advice. She said: “When it comes to things like fruit and vegetables, the more colourful the better. Definitely try to have your five-a-day.

“Take as many regular breaks as possible and have regular eye tests.”

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