Dry eye syndrome: To prevent this condition, blink frequently. Normally a person blinks 12-14 times per minute and this drops to 4-5 times when we are using gadgets. So, this means we need to consciously remember to blink.
Increased screen time can put you at risk of dry eye syndrome
- Digital eye strain can increase the risk of dry eye syndrome
- Lubricating eye drop can give temporary relief
- Cut down on your screentime to prevent this condition
Working from home has become a new normal, to which, we all have become accustomed. Some of us love it, but most of us are gradually beginning to dislike it. Working from home has blurred the boundaries between workday and leisure day. Most people are working more than 10-12 hours a day, with a growing usage of the computer and other digital devices continuously through the day. In addition, entertainment gadgets are being used more than ever before. So really, on an average most people are interacting with some kind of screen, for more than 12-15 hours a day.
It is because of this, that more and more people are experiencing a syndrome called Dry Eye, with increasing discomfort in and around their eyes. Initially, what one would have experienced as mild eye discomfort at the end of the day, is gradually becoming more pronounced with the increase in duration and intensity of digital device consumption. For some people, dry eye can interfere with work and their quality of life.
Here’s what happens to our eyes when we are glued to laptops, mobiles, and tablets for long hours.
1. Our eyes develop what is called ‘digital eye strain’
2. We experience one or all the following symptoms
- Dry eye
- Irritable eye
- Pain around eyes
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in focusing on a near object
- Difficulty in changing focus from one object to another at a different distance
- Grittiness/ foreign body sensation
3. Dry eye can be severe if the engagement with screens is without proper and consistent breaks. Even anti-glare glasses are of no use
4. Lubricating eye drops give temporary relief
5. Break from digital tools reduce the intensity of the eye symptoms temporarily
How to reduce the risk of, or prevent Dry Eye Syndrome
1. Reduce the amount of uninterrupted time with screens. Take a short break after every 15-20 minutes.
2. Blink frequently. Normally a person blinks 12-14 times per minute and this drops to 4-5 times when we are using gadgets. So, this means we need to consciously remember to blink.
3. Adopt a proper posture while you are using these gadgets. Do not lie down or sit on a bed while you are working on your laptop or mobile.
4. Ensure that you are wearing your prescription eyeglasses if you have any while you are working on these gadgets.
5. Do not use excessive air conditioning and do not keep the temperature too low. Air conditioning reduces the atmospheric humidity and that can enhance eye dryness.
6. Drink enough water.
7. Use lubricating eye drops depending on your eye symptoms.
8. You can use anti-glare glasses if your laptop/desktop already does not have an inbuilt glare protection. Blue light blocking glasses do not have much of a role here.
9. Manage the contrast on your screen and the lightning conditions around you. Screen contrast should be just optimal. The light around you should not directly fall on your face or on the screen that you are using.
10. Keep a strict division of your workday and personal time and wind up your work by the decided time.
11. Rather than chatting with your friends on your devices, call them up and have a conversation. That will be good for not just your relationship but will also reduce your screen time.
12. Find alternative means of entertainment such as cards or board games with your family.
13. Wear your masks and go out for walks in open spaces (Avoid any crowded places while walking).
14. Eat healthy nutritious food and sleep well.
15. If none of this works, then pay a visit to your eye doctor to rule out other eye diseases.
Finally, it is all about managing our lifestyle and leading a heathy well-balanced life. This, to a large extent is in our own control. Let us all be more deliberate about what we do and how that may be impacting our eyes and overall health!
(Dr Vandana Jain, Director and Co-founder, Advanced Eye Institute Pvt Ltd, Mumbai)
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