To our dear friends and patients,
With COVID-19 restricting movements outside of the home, we are now strongly encouraged to stay indoors. But what do most adults and children do when at home? They play video games and work at their computers for hours and hours. Lack of outdoor time and extensive near work are both serious risk factors for increasing myopia (shortsightedness), a condition that increases the risk of permanent sight-threatening disease later in life!
It is very possible that when the pandemic is over, we will see a large increase in adults and children developing or worsening short-sightedness.
Even I find myself forgetting about my sonsʾ visual health at times when Iʾm caught up in the news and stress! I need to consciously remind myself to be present for my boys and that this is a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time with my family. I try to split up TV and computer time with non-visually demanding tasks as below.
- Leave the house for 1 hour every day: Ensure that you still go outdoors for 1 hour every day, and participate with your family/children. Personally, I have found that by the end of our walk, I am more able to let go of stress and just enjoy time with my family. For example:
- Working in the yard (start planning your dream garden!)
- Family walk around the neighbourhood and bring your pets along
- Go for a jog
- Playing in the yard – if you have young kids, create obstacle courses with toys and games from your garage
- Work outdoors: If possible, read or work on devices outdoors. High light levels are thought to be a key protective factor of outdoor time in regards to myopia. Even under shade, umbrella, or with a hat and sunglasses, the light levels typically reaching your eyes will exceed that of indoors.
If this isnʾt possible due to weather or apartment living, do this near natural lighting by a large window
- 10 min break every 30 mins screen time: Ensure to take a 10-minute break for every 30 minutes of screen time, and try and limit it to only 1-2 hours per day during these periods when they are at home. For children, we suggest board games, puzzles, lego-building, reading a book, writing letters to grand-parents or friends, and helping out with household chores.
This fantastic article has some great insights into how to keep you and your family sane, calm and healthy during this time, especially for those with kids: https://childmind.org/article/supporting-kids-during-the-covid-19-crisis/
And this website lists some creative ways to keep your children entertained so that in other times of uncertainty, theyʾll recall fondly how their family pulled together and made the best of things: https://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/250-creative-ways-keep-your-family-sane-during-covid-19-crisis
Good luck and stay safe (and sane!). Our practice is staying open at the moment for emergency eye care, and product orders. If you are concerned about yours or your childʾs eyesight, or want to learn more about how we can limit myopia progression, feel free to get in touch with us via phone on 3345 3383 or email [email protected] .
Please also feel free to share and pass this information on to all your friends and family!
* Thanks to our colleague in the US, Dr Caroline Guerrero Cauchi, and Alex Petty, our VP, for content