The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way that we live our daily lives, but the impact that it’s had on eye health is often overlooked. In this article, we detail the impact that living in lockdown has had on our eyes.
Mask Associated Dry Eye
Mask Associated Dry Eye (M.A.D.E) is one eye health issue that has emerged since lockdown began back in 2020. Face masks have become an essential part of our day-to-day life over the past year, and so too have dry eyes. When we exhale, warm air is directed towards our eyes by our masks, causing our tears to evaporate, which ultimately dries out our eyes. When our eyes feel dry, gritty, irritated, itchy and look red, they may also become watery to compensate. According to a study by the University of Cambridge, England, the frequency of sore eyes was significantly higher during COVID-19 state (16%) compared with pre-COVID-19 state (5%).
When wearing a face mask, many choose contact lenses as a more practical approach in comparison to other eyewear options such as glasses, as they do not steam up or interfere with mask straps. Lenses can overcome these issues. Despite this, there’s still a risk of experiencing drier eyes than normal when wearing your mask. In order to help with this, we recommend keeping a handy bottle of eye drops on you when you’re out - just be sure to check that you’re using contact lens-friendly drops, such as Hydration Drops.
Working from Home
With our so-called ‘new normal’ of working from home, many of us have converted parts of our homes into office spaces. Meetings that used to take place in conference rooms or walks around the office are now all online, increasing our screen time even more. Unfortunately, when staring at screens we tend to blink less, which often leads to dry eyes and eventually poorer vision, headaches and occasionally, migraines. In order to overcome this, Anita, WALDO’s in-house optician, also recommends to use the 20:20:20 rule. Focus on a distant object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This is a great way to allow your eyes to relax and reduce your risks of suffering from digital eye strain.
Blue Light could also be to blame for eye discomfort during lockdown. Blue Light is a high-energy light that digital screens emit, and studies show that too much exposure to this light may be linked to eye-strain, sleep cycle disruption and macular degeneration. Luckily, Blue Light Glasses can help to counteract these effects, so you can protect your eyes while you continue your screen usage at home.
Easing Back to Normal
If you’ve stopped wearing your contact lenses during lockdown, it’s likely you’ll be picking them back up again once normal life resumes. When the time comes, we recommend easing your eyes back into a routine gradually in order to avoid a feeling of dryness or discomfort. The best way to return to your normal contact lens routine is to slowly build up your wear times as you’re likely to have done when you first started wearing contact lenses, starting with around 4 hours. If your eyes feel uncomfortable, we recommend that you remove them sooner. Add an extra 2 hours everyday in the same way until you get to your normal pre-pandemic wearing time.