Computer screens have always been the proverbial double-edged swords; on the one hand, they help us with all sorts of activities from business to entertainment, from health consultations to online courses, from stocks & finance to online shopping, and on the other hand, they have a major role in triggering health issues especially for the eyes. It was alright till the time computers were placed in one room and we could access them only when we would wind up with our day. But today computer screens are before our eyes almost throughout our awake time in the form of mobiles, tabs, laptops, office screens, and even watches! Its impact has become stronger with prolonged consumption, much to the detriment of the user’s eyes!
Computer screens have further burdened our eyes during the lockdown as people remain homebound; most people are working from home, studying from home, and even grocery shopping online, spending four hours more than they did on a regular day. First of all, we all have what is known as ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ (CVS) ranging from mild to severe. It involves eye redness, dryness, grittiness, tiredness along with headaches, sleepiness, eye pain, shoulder & back pain, and blurring of vision for both near and distance, this immensely hampers one’s productivity.
In children, especially those who spend a long time on the mobile phone/ tablet studying or playing games, along with the effect it has on memory and logical thinking, excessive screen time increases the chances of inducing high refractive errors (getting high power glasses) which in the long-run has its own problems and complications. Also due to constant eye rubbing that results from tiredness, there are high chances of eye infections including Stye and Conjunctivitis, which can also spread to others if hands are not washed after touching one's eyes.
In some people especially the old with less space in their eyes (narrow angles), constant near work can precipitate an attack of Acute Glaucoma which presents as severe pain, redness, and blurring of the vision. It can easily escalate into an emergency and may require admission and laser treatment. Some people also suffer from dark circles and wrinkles around their eyes not only due to lack of sleep but also because of the blue light of the computer, mobile, and laptop screens. Blue light is also known to affect not just the sleep patterns, but it can also cause retinal issues in the long run.
Of all these problems, dryness of eyes and spectacle dependence are the two most common problems emerging from excessive screen time. Dryness can cause a constant gritty sensation, blurring due to dry spots and intermittent watering. Contact lenses increase the dryness even more and are not recommended for computer users. Spectacle power keeps changing in young users while in older members it shows fluctuations which cause intermittent blurring. It is therefore recommended to reduce the screen time to the minimum possible, limiting it to jobs that are of utmost importance.
Along with this, the following precautions should be followed
- Use anti-reflective glasses or screens- Keep the computer at 45degrees lower angle- Blink your eyes frequently
- Use eye moisturizing eye drops during and after screen time
- Eat lots of fresh green, red and orange vegetables & fruits- Follow the 20-20-20 rule which means every 20mins look at a distance of 20metres for 20secs, to give a break to the eye muscles and the eye surface
- Do not sit directly in front of the AC- Sleep for 7-8 hours every night and drink 2-3 liters of water every day
- Go out in the sunlight frequently, this is especially important for children, as UV light has shown to reduce the chances of glass progression
- Limit mobile phones use in children to the minimum possible for the overall development of the child, give them other options like board games or going for a trek
Following the above precautions, one can take good care of their eyes, however, if one faces eye problems, the best thing to do is to consult an eye doctor. Do not self-medicate as this will help avoid wrong treatments and aggravation of the eye problem.