How do you take care of your Eye Health in the age of increased screen time? We asked a medical expert.

Highlights-

  • Take a 10-15 minute break every hour to reduce eyestrain.
  • Sit at a degree angle with the keyboard slightly below the elbow; knees 4 to 6 inches off the edge of the seat and bent at a degree angle: use a wrist pad
  • Maintain good posture at your desk: keep your back straight and your shoulders back.
  • Exercise – Conscious Blinking and eye movement
  • Apply 20-20-20 rule while using a laptop or mobile i.e. after every 20 mins look into distance (say 20 meters) for 20 seconds.
  • Even children are at a risk for CVS. It is due to the adaptability of their immature visual system and lack of self-awareness.
  • Splashing water on eyes has no proven role in managing or preventing eye diseases.
Image of a ophthalmologist
Dr. Ankita Phougat is a specialist ophthalmologist working at Vista Healthcare clinic in the UAE.  (Photo-Supplied)

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are increasingly becoming reliant on digital technology. Mobiles, computers, LCD monitors and laptops have become an integral part of life for those confined to their homes. Since the children are also doing their schooling online, eye health has been a cause of concern for most. With the internet full of tips on physical fitness, Dr. Ankita Phougat, a specialist ophthalmologist at Vista Healthcare Clinic, Dubai told us how we can keep our eyes fit.

The most important cause of concern now and otherwise in today’s digital world is Computer vision syndrome (CVS). It is a ‘complex of eye and vision problems, experienced during or related to computer /screen use’. It occurs due to increased demands on the visual system as a result of maintaining focus for a prolonged period. Anyone who spends two or more hours a day working on a computer/mobile/laptop is at risk for developing CVS. The reason: human vision is not suited for staring at a computer screen. 

Image of a woman typing in laptop
Photo by Brooke Cagle for Unsplash

The common symptoms of presentation include 

  • Headaches 
  • Loss of focus
  • Burning eyes
  • Tired eyes 
  • Blurred vision  
  • Double vision
  • Head and shoulder pain

The causes include but not limited to:

  • Computer/laptop/mobile screens
  • Surroundings like lighting, glare sources 
  • Inappropriate posture due to equipment positioning
  • Increased use of eyes in near-viewing posture
Image of a child playing videogame
Photo by Kelly Sikkema for Unsplash

Prevention and Remedies

We can’t stop using the latest technology or reduce screen time, now or even later. But we can always take some preventive measures, as below:

  • Working distance from eye to screen should be set between 20″ and 26″. Place your monitor directly in front of you, not off to one side.
  • Viewing angle for the screen should be 10 degrees to 15 degrees below straight-ahead gaze position. 
  • Room lighting should be free of glare sources as much as possible. Removing direct light sources, moving your computer station (place computer screens at 90 degrees angles to windows whenever possible) installing blinds, screens, or shades can reduce glare. Screen anti-glare cover filters should be used where necessary. 
  • Reduce room lighting so that screen brightness and contrast can also be reduced to more comfortable levels. Use task lighting at each desk to illuminate copy work. 
  • Avoid a dry environment and dehydration as they can worsen irritated, dry eyes. Computer work can be very engrossing and you may forget to get something to drink. 
  • Take a 10-15 minute break every hour to reduce eyestrain. Look away from the computer screen every 15- 20 minutes and focus for 15-20 seconds on a distant object outside or down the hallway or get up and take a short walk. Everyone tends to stare at the computer and blink less, about 5 times less than normal, according to studies. Taking frequent breaks allows normal blinking and better wetting of the eyes. 
  • Assume the right posture- sit at a 90degree angle with the keyboard slightly below the elbow; knees 4 to 6 inches off the edge of the seat and bent at a 90degree angle: use a wrist pad. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height. Your arms should be parallel to the floor when you type. Your feet should be flat on the floor or a footstool. Finally, maintain good posture at your desk. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back.

· Use glasses to correct any refractive error to focus clearly on texts. In case of any problem in vision or blurring, a refraction test should be scheduled.

Ten Commandments when computers/screens are viewed for long:

1. Computer Viewing Distance – 25 inches

2. Monitor Tilt – 300

3. Screen colors – dark letters on a light background

4. Head tilt – 20o

5. Lighting – avoid glare, strong reflections

6. Body Posture – erect back

7. Humidity and Airflow – avoid direct airflow

8. Break – 20/20/20 exercise

9. Exercise – Conscious Blinking and eye movement

10. Similarly, when using mobile/laptop, avoid using it continuously for long, apply 20-20-20 rule i.e. after every 20 mins look into distance (say 20 meters) for 20 seconds. Keep a check on your posture, don’t keep your neck bent looking at the mobile or screen, try to keep it at eye level to avoid neck bending. 

Even children are at a risk for CVS.

Prevention of CVS in children can be facilitated by increased awareness among parents and teachers, regular comprehensive eye examinations, child-friendly work stations, and supervised computer usage.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema for Unsplash

Role of Nutrition – The role of nutrition cannot be overemphasized. Like the whole body, eyes health depends on eating a healthy nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals. The role of individual supplements in preventing or treating eye diseases is still under research. It should not be done without a physician consult.

Myth-buster  – Splashing water on eyes has no proven role in managing or preventing eye diseases.

Conclusion

Computer Vision Syndrome affects millions of people who are computer users. It will increase further with more dependence on laptops/I pads/mobiles. Only when the eyes can focus on the plane of the screen are well moistened can the patient experience relief from the fatiguing effects of Computer Vision Syndrome. 

To summarize, keep taking breaks (eyes need rest like any other body part).Also keep a check on blinking and body posture, stay hydrated.

To attend free mental health coaching group for COVID, click here

How to maintain nutrition during lock down? We asked an expert. Click here

Click HERE to read lockdown diary of a personal trainer in Dubai

Arti Danihttp://storyoffitness.info
Arti Dani is a journalist by trade, a traveling runner with 5 international marathons, one ultra marathon under her belt. 100 push-ups a day is a simple job for her, even though she's still working to perfect her headstand skills.
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