A reluctance to get your eyes checked during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to long-term vision issues, according to one Ballarat expert.
Optometry Director for Specsavers Ballarat, Dean Binns, believes many people within the community put off the need to see an optometrist during the pandemic for one of a number of reasons, such as uncertainty about the virus or a lack of funds due to loss of work.
Mr Binns said this could lead to long-term issues, as underlying issues may have gone untreated.
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"Like a lot of things that have been happening during COVID, a lot of people are avoiding seeing their doctor and their optometrist just because of the fear of catching the virus," he said.
"We want to see our patients regularly so we can diagnose any issues like cataracts or glaucoma... the concern is because people have been putting these appointments off, people are doing permanent damage to their eyes."
Alongside these potential issues, Mr Binns said he has seen more patients complain of eye strain, which could be linked to an increased proportion of time looking at screens as the community works and learns from home.
"The thing we have been seeing is because so much of our work now is screen based as we shift to working from home is a higher level of strain on the eyes," he continued.
"You can see it in the form of more tired eyes, sore eyes and headaches... I'm probably seeing more of that in children."
This strain may also be causing distance vision blurring, which has the potential to be especially disruptive for children returning to in-class learning.
"The other thing I've noticed is some children complaining about distance vision blur," he said.
"That can cause issues when they return to school and they're having to look at whiteboards and work in a classroom setting. It doesn't necessarily cause any long term damage, however in the short term it can cause that strain which can obviously affect a child's ability to work.
"I don't think we can be 100 per cent certain that this extra time learning from home has caused distance vision blur, however I wouldn't be surprised. At this stage, it's simply something I'm observing."
As restrictions continue to ease and the community gets outside more across summer, Mr Binns said people need to be aware of the importance of looking after your eyes.
Making sure people know exactly how to protect their eyes from the sun is something he said should be as known as how to protect their skin.
"Everybody knows they have to 'slip, slop, slap' to protect their skin, but we need to take the same care in protecting out eyes," he said.
"This can be done by doing things such as wearing a wide brimmed hat, applying sun screen around your eyes and on your eye-lids and wearing sun glasses that actually protect your eyes."