The health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic extend far beyond the coronavirus itself. Lockdown measures have changed the way we work, interact and learn, and the effect these changes are having on our eyes is poorly understood.
What we are certain of is that people are adjusting to working in more constrained environments: face-to-face meetings have been replaced by video conference calls and many schools have moved online.
It is well known that prior to the pandemic, more than 40% of adolescents in grades 7 to 9 in China reported at least 2 hours of exposure to digital screen per day. The use of digital displays by China’s school children has since far exceeded this, and it is believed that increased screen time will result in worsening symptoms of eyestrain.
In an effort to reduce digital eyestrain The American Academy of Ophthalmology has recommended the ‘20-20-20’ rule: after every 20 minutes of looking at a screen, you should try to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
It’s a simple idea that holds great promise to tackle digital eyestrain, but encouraging children and adults to adopt this form of behaviour change in the midst of a busy day is not quite as simple as it sounds.
That’s why we at the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center—in time for China Sight Day and in response to this challenging moment—have developed a novel peer-to-peer live-streaming app for Android and iOS smartphones that encourages children to engage in physical activity during online school recess periods.