World Sight Day: Protect your eyes from excessive screen-time impact
World Sight Day, observed annually on the second Thursday of October, is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment. It was originally initiated by the ´Sight First Campaign’ of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000.
During these Covid pandemic days, where working from home and online classes have become a necessity, people are left with no option than to use more and more of electronic devices. This results in requiring to stare at computer, tablet or mobile screens for hours at a time. This excessive usage of screen time can put a real strain on the eyes.
IMPACT OF SCREEN TIME ON EYES
Eye problems, caused by computer use, fall under the category - Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.
This means, it isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and discomfort. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work on a computer screen for long duration have at least some symptoms.
Working adults aren't the only ones affected. Kids who use computers or tablets for educational and recreational purposes can have issues too, especially if the lighting and their posture are less than ideal.
THE RISK FACTOR
There's no concrete proof yet that computer use causes long-term damage to the eyes. But studies show that regular use can lead to eye strain and discomfort. If adequate steps are not taken to tackle the problem, it could affect the eyes as well as work performance.
The most important symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry, red eyes
- Eye irritation
- Neck or back pain
- Poor lighting
- Glare on a digital screen
- Improper viewing distances
- Poor seating posture
- Uncorrected vision problems
- A combination of these factors
CVS or digital eyestrain, can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with special emphasis on visual requirements needs to be done under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner or ophthalmologist.
STEPS TO REDUCE HARM
Adjust lighting – Most screens have a brightness adjustment. Make sure that the screen isn’t brighter than the surrounding light, or the eyes will have to work harder to see. Adjust the room lighting or the screen lighting and increase the contrast on screen to reduce eye strain.
Give the eyes a break – An effective recommendation is to use the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain. Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a break and allows them to refocus.
Keep eyes moist – Consider using artificial tears to lubricate the eyes when they feel dry. Not only can screen time dry the eyes out, but the heaters and air conditioners in the space can further dry the eyes out.
Keep distance – Keep the screen about an arm’s length or 25 inches away from eyes –because eyes work harder when the screen is close to face. Also, the angle of the screen should have the individual looking slightly downward.
Reduce glare – It is important to position the screen in such a way that it does not produce a glare from sunlight or internal light. A glare can further aggravate the eye.
Use blue light filters – A blue light filter can decrease the amount of blue light displayed on the screen. By reducing this light, eyes won’t feel as tired by the end of the day.
Periodic eye test – A yearly eye exam is essential, since the physician can check a person’s eye health and determine if any chronic eye conditions are developing.
Get help- If the simple steps to avert the harm don’t help, one could potentially have an underlying eye problem, such as eye muscle imbalance or uncorrected vision, so talking to the primary health provider is essential.
(The author is Chairperson CSA, Dir TGL, Sr Dir FWO, Editor The Intl Journal)