Foggy glasses, dried-up contact lenses: How the pandemic is causing people to change their eye care habits

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS — The side effects of mask wearing, working from home and countless Zoom calls may be changing habits when it comes to personal eye care.

Eye doctors have reported an increase in patients the past few months. In some places there has been a spike in contact lens and eye surgery requests for people who want to ditch glasses.

For others, tired eyes and dried-out contacts from long days spent in front of a screen have led to an increase in glasses purchases. Here in central Indiana, eye doctors are seeing a bit of everything.

“A lot of people tend to lean to glasses as a result of contacts drying out anyway if your job revolves around the computer. If you’re at a job where you go to the office and tend to wear glasses, those are the people that tend to come in wanting to do Lasik or get into contacts. I’ve seen a lot of people asking that are maybe older and never worn contacts inquiring into Lasik or wearing contacts for the first time,” said Dr. Colin Claerbout with Best In Sight Eye Care.

Claerbout said many patients have complained about their glasses fogging up as they as they inquire about contacts or eye surgery.

There’s also an increased focus on health in general now due to the pandemic.

“A lot of people have been over-wearing their contacts, whether they’re in a monthly lens, some people are coming in and they’ve been in the same lens for three months, six months, so they’re like ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ They need to get a new exam, some new contacts and start taking care of themselves a little bit more. People with their general health are starting to realize how important it is this year and last year,” Claerbout said.

Claerbout adds a lot of parents have also been coming in with their kids who complain of tired eyes after spending hours in front of a screen, something exacerbated by the pandemic as schools switched to online learning.

For both adults and children, Claerbout recommends taking breaks from screen time, and not looking so closely at them. He also warns against over-wearing  contact lenses.

“Studies show when you stare at something up close your blink rate declines significantly. Every time you blink that lubricates your eyes, keeps your tears from evaporating,” he said. “Your eyes dry out when you’re staring at something, plus you’re over focusing when you stare up close, so eye strain and dryness is the biggest thing I’ve been seeing the past year or so.”

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