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Is it time to get your teen’s eyes tested?

Lockdowns, increased reliance on digital learning and harder to access healthcare could be leading to a ticking timebomb when it comes to our children’s eye health – a leading optical expert is warning.

Dr Andy Hepworth from optical lens specialist, www.essilor.co.uk, explains how 2020 has created the perfect storm for future eye issues in our children and teenagers:

“2020 has been an unprecedented year – never before have our children had to rely so much on digital technology to stay connected, receive education, socialise and so much more.

“Teenagers are renowned for being immersed in the latest tech and high screen users but the sharp increase in screen time in the past 12 months has the potential to have serious implications on our children’s eye health.

“Regular eye examinations are hugely important amongst children and teens while their vision is still developing, but many people have put off visiting their opticians this year because of fears around Covid and missed routine appointments from the lockdown in Spring.

“Many eye conditions don’t present obvious symptoms, and so it is imperative for eyes to be checked regularly, as well as being aware of any abnormal or unusual signs.

“One such condition that can affect people of any age is Computer Vision Syndrome, which is especially prevalent in people who uses digital screens for long periods of time.

“Computer Vision Syndrome can cause eye strain, resulting in dry, irritated eyes, blurry vision, eye fatigue, headaches and even neck and shoulder pain. It occurs due to prolonged use of digital devices, leaving your eyes feeling strained and tired.

“It’s said if you spend two or more hours a day in front of a computer screen, you will likely experience some symptoms of CVS. In 2020 it will not be unusual for many teenagers to be spending between more than eight hours a day at a computer screen for education, relaxing and socialising.

“Our eyes naturally find it difficult to focus on the pixels on a digital screen, as they don’t have the same degree of contrast and definition as printed characters, so our eyes react differently. It can lead to overexerting your eyes to see clearly, which results in a strained or tired feeling in your eyes.

“Some research has also suggested there is a correlation between increased screen time among children and developing short-sightedness, also known as myopia. Encouraging frequent breaks from digital devices is important for all of us, especially for your children. You might also want to take note of their posture too; becoming hunched over a screen is very common!

“You can look out for some small signs that might indicate a vision problem in your teenager. These signs can include:

  • Complaining of headaches
  • Frequent rubbing of eyes
  • Sitting closer to the TV

“Attending regular eye examinations is one of the simplest ways for your teenager to reduce their risk of eye health or vision problems. An eye test can pick up on the smallest changes, even if you or your teenager haven’t noticed anything different.

“All opticians are Covid secure and have strict procedures in place so if you if you’re due or overdue an eye test, don’t put it off. Make an appointment with your local optician today – it could save a lot of issues in the longer term.”