Eye health tips for winter as we spend more time indoors issued

As the winter deepens, The College of Optometrists is urging the public to take steps to protect their vision and eye health, particularly as many more people are once again working from home.

The College has issued 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 feet 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 more people than usual 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 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 we approach the winter solstice and the days are shorter and darker, 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 right now, 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.”