During the period of lockdown, most of the educational institutions are closed, and the students have online classes and tutorials. This has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the screen time exposure for our eyes on mobile phones, iPad, tablets, laptops or desktops. At times the students have to sit in front of the screen for long periods of time ranging from 6 to 12 hours a day.
Talking about these issues, Dr Shobhit Kacker, Eye Surgeon and Vitreo Retinal Specialist, has shared a few tips with us.
He mentions that due to long hours of sitting in front of the screen, the number of eye problems are increasing, such as dryness, irritation, itching, eye aches, headache, redness and excessive watering. When we sit in front of the screen for a long period of time the rate of blinking of our eyes is decreased, resulting in decreased formation of the tear film on the external surface of the eyes. Most of the time, while attending online classes, we are sitting in an AC environment; both these factors cause an increase in evaporation of tears from the surface of the eye causing symptoms of irritation and redness.
As we are focusing on the screen of mobiles or computers, which are placed close to our eyes, our convergence muscles, that is the muscles which tend to bring our eyes inwards so that we can focus on near objects, are overburdened. After a few hours, we start experiencing eyestrain and headaches. At times there is an alteration in the composition of the tears being released by our tear glands, due to which the they are not able to keep the surface of the eye moist. Remedial steps and tips which need to be followed during the period of COVID-19 are as follows:
- To work on laptop or desktop in place of mobiles and tablets as the former have larger screens and we need to strain less.
- Maintain an adequate distance of at least 18 inches between our eyes and the screen.
- It is important to keep our body in a correct posture with the spine straight and using chairs having adequate cushioned and spinal curve on back support. This encourages us to keep our back in a correct posture.
- At the same time, we need to give rest to our eyes at regular intervals of 30 to 40 minutes, lasting for about 5minutes. During this period we should either close our eyes and do a gentle massage of the eyeballs, wash them with clean water or look at a distant object such as a painting or a calendar on the wall or gaze outside our windows. This allows the convergence muscles to relax for some time. Certain convergence exercises using a pointed object like a pen or pencil can be done for strengthening these muscles.
- It is advisable to regularly use tear substitutes to moisture our eyes and provide a soothing effect.
- Last but not least, adequate sleep of at least seven hours is mandatory. People who are using spectacles are advised to have the Spectacle powers checked if not done in the last one year.
- The role of nutrition is supportive, and our diet should contain adequate amounts of vitamins, especially Vitamin A and minerals such as zinc, manganese copper and selenium. These natural antioxidants are helpful to keep our eyes healthy.
By following these guidelines, we can maintain the health of our eyes.