The UK summer holidays are nearly here, leaving more than 9 million kids with nothing to do. Working parents across the country may need to entertain their kids at home, granting them the freedom to indulge in excessive TV watching, playing video games, and spending far more time than necessary on tablets. A lot of entertainment is based on screens nowadays and, with the cost-of-living crisis taking its toll, it is a cheap boredom buster option for many families.
But too much screen time comes with a different price. Excessive screen time could cause children to develop computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. The symptoms for which include headaches, dry eyes and blurry vision.
Nimmi Mistry, professional services optician at Vision Direct, explains what computer vision syndrome is and provides some tips on how to avoid it.
What is computer vision syndrome (digital eye strain)?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain or digital visual syndrome (DVS), is a term given to a set of symptoms that can arise from using digital devices for a long time. Looking at a screen that emits intense light while having to focus and defocus at different distances requires an accommodative effort for many hours at a time. This, in addition to glare from screens, can be harmful to kids’ eye health.
Just for adults, spending more than three hours a day looking at a phone, computer or tablet is enough time to negatively impact eye health.
In the UK, a child spends 6.3 hours in front of screens – probably even more during the holidays. Children are particularly susceptible to CVS due to their developing visual systems and often lack awareness about their screen usage habits.
That excessive amount of screen time can result in potentially serious eye health problems.
What are the symptoms of computer vision syndrome?
Eye fatigue: Due to the prolonged accommodative effort demanded of our eyes without sufficient breaks, this can lead to eye fatigue which presents as blurred vision and tired eyes.
Dry eye: Dry eye is one of the most common symptoms of CVS. Recent studies have shown that when we use a screen we tend to blink less, which means your eyes get less lubrication, end up with eye dryness and leave them feeling sore and tired.
Headache: The intense light and the pressure to which our eyes are subjected continuously can cause more headaches which can make focusing or going about daily tasks a little more difficult.
Photophobia: CVS can also be responsible for the development of hypersensitivity to light, both natural and artificial – not something you want as we head into the longer days of summer.
It’s also important to remember that screens emit blue light which interrupts and reduces the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Extended screen exposure can therefore cause disruptions to sleeping patterns and quality. Lack of sleep is something that can also negatively impact eye health.
Tips to avoid or treat digital eye strain in children
The summer break is long, we know. And the struggle to pry children away from screens when they spend their time at home seems like a lost battle even before it begins. However, there are small habits you can adopt to minimize the impact on your child’s eyes and prevent digital strain.
1. Appropriate distance from screens: When it comes to eye health ergonomics plays a key role. The screen or monitor should be at least between 50 and 65 cm away from your child. It should also be more or less at eye level to avoid neck problems. The monitor and keyboard should be positioned in a straight line.
2. Screen with good resolution: Watching a screen that has a good resolution and is of good quality is necessary to avoid eye strain. When it comes to the actual display on the monitor, having a high-resolution panel (a minimum of 1080p, if not 4K), along with strong RGB colour accuracy settings, and a non-LED panel is what is recommended as better for your eyes.
3. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: To combat and prevent the symptoms of digital eye strain your child should be reminded to incorporate the 20-20-20 rule into daily routine. This involves looking away from the screen every 20 minutes to look for 20 seconds at a fixed point 20 feet away. This exercise will relieve the stress on your eyes and force the habit of taking screen breaks. Why not make it a game and have funny pictures up on the wall to give them a fixed point to look at.
4. Using eye drops: If your child is already experiencing discomfort in their eyes as a result of digital eye strain, then having artificial tears on hand will allow your child to manage the discomfort of dry eyes. However, be aware that not all children will be accepting of having drops administered. Some safe options for kids‘ eye drops include artificial tears, antihistamines, low-dose atropine drops, and dilating eye drops
5. Conscious blinking: When we are concentrating or staring at screens, we often forget to blink without even realising. Forcing your child to blink is a handy exercise to alleviate dryness and eye strain.
6. Take your child to an ophthalmologist. In more severe cases in which the symptoms persist in a severe and prolonged manner, you should make an appointment with a specialist.
7. Have an eye examination. If your child spends a lot of time in front of screens and you see that they are squinting or rubbing their eyes, it’s vital to have their eyes tested.
8. Screen detox. We know that it is easier to keep your child happy during the summer break by giving them their screen time but keeping them busy in other ways is much more important.
Ensure you break up screen time by encouraging children to engage in other activities such as drawing, building, playing outside and so on.
In this digital world where electronic devices play an important role in our lives, it’s easy to forget to pay attention to the health of our and our kids’ eyes.
Digital detox or limits may come with a bit of protesting, but their eyes will be grateful.
The Perils of “Fast Homewares”: Rethinking Consumerism for a More Sustainable Future
by Brian Walmsley, founder of ReBorn
In a world obsessed with constant consumption and rapid turnover of goods, the term “fast homewares” has become emblematic of a troubling trend in the UK and beyond. It refers to the relentless purchase of cheap, disposable home goods, often produced in the Far East from virgin materials, which inevitably break easily and are, regrettably, mostly unrepairable. This cycle of short-lived homewares has dire consequences, including detrimental effects on carbon emissions, landfill sites, and sustainability efforts. With an estimated 70 million items of homeware discarded to UK landfills each year, it’s time to confront the challenges posed by fast homewares and usher in a more responsible, sustainable approach to home goods consumption.
Homewares: An Economic Giant with an Unsustainable Cost
The homewares industry is huge, representing a significant part of the UK’s retail landscape, boasting sales worth approximately £26 billion annually. Major retailers such as John Lewis, IKEA, Amazon, Dunelm, NEXT, eBay, and numerous others have built their empires on this lucrative sector. However, the enormous success of companies such as these also comes with a hefty environmental price tag.
The Dark Side of Fast Homewares
Fast homewares perpetuate a cycle of overconsumption and waste, primarily due to the low-quality materials used in their production. These items are designed to be cheap and disposable, encouraging consumers to replace them frequently. As a result, valuable resources are squandered and an alarming amount of waste is generated, much of which ends up in landfills.
Landfills in the UK are inundated with discarded homewares that are not biodegradable. The degradation process of these items is slow, releasing harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater, further harming the environment.
The production and transportation of fast homewares also contributes significantly to carbon emissions, particularly when manufactured overseas and shipped to the UK. This extensive supply chain emits greenhouse gases at various stages, exacerbating climate change.
The Road to Redemption: A Sustainable Homewares Industry
The solution to the fast homewares crisis lies in reimagining the industry’s fundamental principles. Instead of prioritizing low cost and disposability, we should shift our focus to quality, durability, and sustainability. Embracing the principles of the circular economy, which emphasize repairability and recyclability at the end of an item’s life cycle, is essential. This approach aligns with the concept of “cradle to cradle,” where products are designed to be regenerated or repurposed, minimizing waste.
Producers and retailers should consider ‘Quality over Quantity’ focusing on areas such as:
Durable Goods: Manufacturers should produce homewares built to last. Investing in high-quality materials and craftsmanship will reduce the need for frequent replacements, ultimately benefiting consumers and the environment.
Repairability: Homeware products should be designed with ease of repair in mind. Providing repair services and spare parts ensures that items can be fixed rather than replaced, extending their lifespan.
Recycled Materials: Utilizing recycled materials in the production of homewares significantly reduces the demand for virgin resources, lowering the industry’s environmental footprint.
Closed-Loop Systems: Creating closed-loop systems for homeware materials, where products can be recycled and remanufactured indefinitely, aligns with the circular economy’s goals.
Local Supply Chains: A local supply chain enhances transparency and traceability, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy.Moreover, producing and sourcing homewares locally drastically reduces the carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping, benefiting both the environment and the local economy.
ReBorn Homewares: Pioneering a Sustainable Revolution
It is these challenges and opportunities that led to the creation and launch of ReBorn® homewares. This innovative company is committed to redefining the way we think about homewares, with a focus on style and sustainability.
The ReBorn range is all made in the UK from recycled materials and are circular by design. This means that all items can be repaired or “ReBorn again” in future. The Wiltshire based team prioritizes quality over quantity, ensuring that its products stand the test of time. Their items are designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and durable.
Moreover, by sourcing all materials and opting to manufacture locally, this significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance transportation.
Join the Sustainable Homewares Movement
To address the urgent issues posed by fast homewares, we all play a role in reimagining the industry. Consumers can make a difference by choosing quality over quantity, opting for repairable and sustainable homewares, and supporting companies that prioritize responsible production methods.
Retailers, too, have a crucial part to play by reevaluating their sourcing and production practices. They can collaborate with manufacturers like ReBorn to offer sustainable, locally sourced products to their customers.
The homewares industry’s transformation into a more sustainable and environmentally conscious sector is not only possible but imperative. By embracing durable, repairable, and locally sourced goods, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, minimize waste, and pave the way for a more responsible and sustainable future.
Let us all be part of this journey towards a sustainable homewares industry that benefits us, our planet, and generations to come. The time for change is now.
The Benefits of All Inclusive Packages for Corporate Travel
Source: Finance Derivative
Corporate travel is essential for most businesses. It’s great for forming partnerships with local and international companies, meeting clients or business partners in person, and attending conferences and networking events. Over 12% of employees report traveling for business at least once as of March 2023, while 17% have traveled 2-3 times.
Despite this, planning and attending corporate trips can be tiresome. There are many things you to consider while organizing them, such as booking flights and accommodations and making an itinerary.
This is why you should consider booking an all inclusive holiday package for corporate travel. To convince you, here are some of the benefits it offers:
It’s more convenient
If employees are the ones drawing up corporate travel plans to attend work events, think of it as an additional stressor for them in the workplace. After all, it’s something they’re doing outside their regular workload—and that can affect their performance and productivity, preventing them from giving their best.
That’s where all inclusive holidays come in to provide the ultimate convenience for corporate travelers. It can streamline lengthy planning processes by covering everything: flights, hotel, luggage, transfers, and meals. From here, all you or your employees need to do is show up at the airport on time. You’ll find that your accommodations provide everything you need, so everyone can focus on the corporate trip agenda without having to leave the premises. As an added bonus, this makes it easier to monitor all employees and attend work events on time.
It encourages free time
While corporate travel is essentially for work, it wouldn’t hurt to allow employees to enjoy a relaxing time after completing events or tasks. After all, combining a business trip and a short company vacation won’t sound too bad. An all inclusive package makes this possible since it usually includes entertainment and activities offered at your accommodation of choice.
Moreover, it addresses the needs of the evolution of business travel accommodation. Today’s workers are more inclined to join corporate trips when it can be more of a “workcation,” too. Since all inclusive packages cover relaxing travel activities, like spa services, employees can effortlessly enjoy their free time—and come back refreshed and recharged for another round of work.
It simplifies budgeting
Arranging finances and reimbursements for corporate travel can be a hassle. It can be time-consuming to record individual expenses for things like food, entertainment, and other amenities, for example. Booking an all inclusive package can eliminate this problem. You’ll pay for the whole trip at once, including flights, transfers, accommodations, and activities. Upon arrival, you can then freely enjoy what the package has to offer without worrying about additional costs—so there’ll be fewer transactions to include in an expense report. It’ll ultimately be easier to see if the trip stays within budget, as you’ll immediately know how much everything costs.
This can even help employees decide where to spend vacation bonuses. Over 20% of employees usually don’t know how to spend their holiday allowance—but since everything on an all inclusive trip will be paid for and computed beforehand, they’ll have opportunities to decide if they want to spend on additional things the package doesn’t offer. For example, they can take a walking tour of the city around your accommodations. That way, they can make the most out of their bonuses.
It can keep outside partners entertained
Aside from your employees, business partners and clients are often involved in corporate travel. Keeping them entertained while there’s no work to be discussed is essential in making them feel comfortable and welcome during the trip.
Luckily, you can include them in your all inclusive holiday package. That way, you don’t need to worry about how they’ll travel or where they’ll stay either—and they’ll also be able to partake in your hotel or resort’s amenities. Taking this step can leave a good impression on your guests: showing how you care about their wellbeing outside the schedule you have planned is great for building rapport and strengthening opportunities for current and future business partnerships.
All inclusive packages make corporate travel more convenient, relaxing, and entertaining for everyone involved. If the above benefits appeal to you, try booking one for your next business trip!
Is your child blinking too much or is it just a habit? Excessive blinking could be a sign of one of these issues, according to an optician.
Blinking is usually a subconscious natural action that hydrates and cleans your eyes by spreading your tears over their outer surface. It also protects your eye by closing it to keep out dust, other irritants, very bright light, and foreign objects. However, there’s such a thing as too much blinking. Excessive blinking could be a symptom of various issues, some of which may require a trip to your GP.
As part of a recent study Vision Direct looked at blinking patterns and has asked Nimmi Mistry, professional services optician at Vision Direct, to share what “normal” looks like when it comes to blinking and what excessive blinking could indicate.
What does normal blinking look like?
As we age our blinking frequency changes. New-born babies only blink about two times per minute, but by the time you’re an adult, this increases to 14 to 17 times per minute and then stays around this number for the rest of your life.
Blinking patterns can change with certain situations, for example it may slow during periods of focus and speed up when you’re in a stressful situation. Excessive blinking is therefore categorised as frequent rapid blinking which may interfere with your daily life, activities, or vision.
Eight possible causes of excessive blinking
The good news is that most of the issues which cause excessive blinking aren’t serious and, in many cases, will either resolve on their own or require minimum treatment. Some, however, can lead to eye health complications if not addressed quickly.
1. Hay fever
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen which is usually at its worst between March and September when the pollen count is at its highest. Typical symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, or a headache, while the pollen irritating your eyes can cause you to blink more often.
Although there’s no cure for hay fever, there are several treatments which can lessen the impact, including antihistamines, Vaseline under your child’s nostrils to stop pollen getting into the nasal passage and wraparound sunglasses to prevent pollen reaching their eyes.
2. Dry eyes
Dryness can lead to eyes feeling sore, watery, and gritty. Your tear film has three layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus, all of which combine to help keep the surface of your eyes sufficiently lubricated, clear and protected. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes and as a result, increased blinking to soothe these symptoms.
The remedies for dry eye include the use of artificial tears, regular screen breaks, and ensuring your child is getting enough sleep, particularly as we approach the summer holidays. Prolonged dry eye however can also increase your risk of an eye infection due to a reduction in tear production. If your child’s dry eyes are constantly reoccurring, you should arrange to see a health professional to identify and eliminate any underlying causes.
Dry eyes may not sound very serious but if left untreated, severe dry eye may lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers and complications with the quality of your child’s vision.
3. Corneal abrasion (or other eye injury)
A corneal abrasion is a small scratch on the cornea. Common causes include a fingernail scraping the eye and getting grit in the eye, particularly if the grit is rubbed in further which is more likely to be a natural response to sore eyes for a child.
This type of injury, although small, can be extremely painful due to the number of nerves that supply the cornea. The pain typically starts to subside as the scratch heals, which can take approximately 24 to 48 hours for mild abrasions. However, if you find the severity of the pain increases, with extreme sensitivity to lights, a decline in vision, or a general worsening of the appearance of your child’s eyes, you should seek immediate medical advice.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, mucus membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. It can affect one or both eyes and is a common condition that can occur in people of all ages.
There are several types of conjunctivitis, including:
Viral Conjunctivitis: This is the most common form and is usually caused by a virus, such as a cold, something young children are particularly susceptible to. It’s highly contagious and can spread easily through droplet contact with infected individuals or objects. A viral form of the infection normally causes a watery discharge during the day and crusty eyelids in the morning. There’s no cure and those with this type of conjunctivitis simply need to wait it out, but you can relieve symptoms by cleaning your eyes with cool boiled water and clean cotton pads, use a clean pad for each eye and never double dip in the water.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: This type of conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. Children are not renowned for being the most hygienic, especially after using the bathroom, making them more at risk of bacterial pink eye. If a bacterium is responsible for the infection, it will normally cause a yellow or green sticky discharge throughout the day. There are antibiotic eye drops which can either be prescribed or bought over the counter which will help clear up the infection, but ensure you consult your GP or pharmacist before using any type of new medication on your child.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: This occurs when the conjunctiva becomes irritated due to an allergic reaction to substances like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or certain products. It presents in a similar way to viral conjunctivitis but is usually accompanied by nasal congestion and sneezing. It is not contagious but is likely to reoccur in those that suffer with this type.
Blepharitis causes an inflammation of the eyelids that leads to, among other things, intermittent blurring of your vision, redness of parts of the eyelids and itching.
It can be caused by various factors, including bacterial infection, blockage of the Meibomian glands in the eyelids (responsible for producing the oily component of your tears), or skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis can increase the risk factor.
Blepharitis and its associated dryness give a foreign body sensation, so your blinking reflex works harder to alleviate this irritation. This can result in increased blinking or even a repetitive blinking pattern.
6. Eye strain
Eyestrain, also known as asthenopia, is a condition characterised by discomfort or fatigue in the eyes. It typically occurs after prolonged periods of visual activities that require intense concentration, such as using a computer or tablet.
Eyestrain can manifest as a variety of symptoms, including eye fatigue, dryness, blurred vision, headaches, and, of course, excessive blinking.
To help alleviate these symptoms it’s important to encourage your child to take regular screen breaks, the 20-20-20 rule can be good for this. Challenge them to stare
7. Vision problems
Undiagnosed visual problems can also cause a child to excessively blink as the eyes try to focus and become strained as a result. If your child is finding it more difficult to see long distance or read up close, then it’s recommended that they see an optician for an eye test.
It’s important to have an eye test every two years, but, if your child has been experiencing any of the symptoms above for a prolonged period, it’s essential to see an eye care professional as soon as you can to eliminate any visual complications.
When we are tired, the muscles responsible for controlling eye movement and maintaining focus may become fatigued. Blinking can help momentarily relieve any discomfort, which is partially why blinking increases when we’re tired.
Fatigued eyes usually caused by excessive screen time and lack of sleep which can aggravate dry eyes. Blinking helps spread tears across the surface of the eye, providing moisture and alleviating symptoms of dryness.