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Digital eye strain: Long & short of eye health

Know how prolonged screen use in the past two years during the pandemic has affected your eye health and what you can do about it

However, it is better to take them in natural form from fruits, vegetables and other sources than taking pills containing the same.
However, it is better to take them in natural form from fruits, vegetables and other sources than taking pills containing the same.

By Dr Abhishek Hoshing

Know how prolonged screen use in the past two years during the pandemic has affected your eye health and what you can do about it

Has increasing digital experiences and screen use actually affected eyes in the past two years?

Yes, incidence of digital eye strain has increased with increase in computer vision syndrome. People who never used glasses before have started requiring glasses, especially children. More children require glasses now and those who were already using glasses, there has been a rapid increase in power of glasses. Incidence of dry eyes has also increased.

What are some basic dos and dont’s for eyes in case of prolonged screen use?

  • Blink frequently while working. Do not keep staring at screen
  • For every 20 minutes of work on screen look at something which is far away for 20 seconds (20-20 rule)
  • Keep screen below eye level
  • Have good ambient light while watching screens. Adjust screen brightness according to ambient light
  • Don’t face air conditioner/ fan while working
  • Use eyedrops to lubricate eyes (tears substitutes) after consulting eye specialist
  • Use appropriate spectacle prescription glasses if prescribed; you can safely use blue blocking filter glasses.

Do any foods help to strengthen eyes?

Yes, foods containing vitamins A, D and E and minerals help to maintain eye health. However, it is better to take them in natural form from fruits, vegetables and other sources than taking pills containing the same.

What are some exercises one can do to save eyes from strain?

No specific exercise relieves eye strain. One can look at something that is far off to relieve exercise strain following prolonged staring at a particular screen.

Do low brightness and screen covers or blue light really protect eyes?

Yes, but long-term results of studies of their protective efficacy are still awaited. They are very safe to use.

What is optimum screen exposure in 24 hours for eyes?

Six to eight hours for adults, especially if work related. For children, usually one to two hours should be allowed.

Apart from eye power, how else can eyes be affected by strain?

Apart from eye power, eyes can be affected by:

  • Excessive work like reading, computer, or watching handheld devices
  • Dryness of eyes can lead to strain
  • Untreated conditions like allergies, uveitis can exacerbate the feeling of strain.

(Dr Abhishek Hoshing is consultant, ophthalmology and cornea transplant surgery, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai)

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